Murphy Publishes in Top Economics Journal

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dr. David Murphy's paper, entitled "Underground Knowledge: Estimating the Impacts of Soil Information Transfers through Experimental Auctions" has been accepted for publication at the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, an A* rated economics journal.

The paper explores the topic of soil degradation, a serious problem in many developing countries, which often necessitates the use of fertilizers to improve crop yields. However, smallholder farmers usually do not have sufficient information about their soil nutrient levels to make profit-maximizing decisions about fertilizer usage.

In this paper, Murphy conducted two-round experimental auctions to determine whether providing information and fertilizer recommendations from inexpensive soil testing kits to farmers in western Kenya affected their behavior and ability to optimize their input choices.

We auctioned organic and inorganic agricultural inputs, dividing farmers into information treatments. We find that providing soil information has significant effects on farmers’ willingness to pay for inputs. We then use Monte Carlo simulations to show that there is potential for high net benefits to farmers from individualized soil tests. These results suggest that soil testing can be a cost-effective method to increase food security in the region.

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