My doctoral dissertation was a study of how the natural resource base of agriculture affects technological change--and how technological change, in turn, can affect the natural resource base of agriculture.  My subsequent work in this area pursues similar themes.

Some research highlights in this area are:

Research Results


Maryland farmers' adoption of some best management practices is highly responsive to adoption costs, suggesting that cost sharing can induce substantial increases in adoption.  Several practices appear to be complements.

Lichtenberg, Erik, “Cost-Reponsiveness of Conservation Practice Adoption: A Revealed Preference Approach”, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 29, 420-435 (December 2004).

Subsidies for conservation on working farmland can worsen environmental problems by inducing farmers to expand the amount of land cultivated and by increasing cultivation intensity.

Lichtenberg, Erik, "Are Green Payments Good for the Environment?", Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 33, 138-147, (April 2004).

Adoption of water-saving irrigation technologies may be a cost-effective means of solving drainage problems in irrigated farming areas with perched water table problems.

Shah, Farhed, David Zilberman and Erik Lichtenberg, "Optimal Combination of Pollution Prevention and Abatement Policies: The Case of Agricultural Drainage", Environmental and Resource Economics 5, 29-49 (1995).

Caswell, Margriet F., Erik Lichtenberg and David Zilberman, "The Effects of Pricing Policies on Water Conservation and Drainage", American Journal of Agricultural Economics 72, 883-890 (November 1990).

Farmers in the Northern High Plains tend to use center-pivot irrigation systems on low-quality land (sandy soils) that is more vulnerable to groundwater contamination.  Commodity price supports may exacerbate problems of groundwater quality and excessive depletion of groundwater stocks in fossil aquifers.

Just, Richard E., Erik Lichtenberg and David Zilberman, "Effects of the Feed Grain and Wheat Programs on Irrigation and Groundwater Depletion in Nebraska", in Richard E. Just and Nancy Bockstael (ed.), Commodity and Resource Policies in Agricultural Systems.  New York: Springer-Verlag, 1991.

Lichtenberg, Erik, "Land Quality, Irrigation Development and Cropping Patterns in the Northern High Plains", American Journal of Agricultural Economics 71, 187-194 (February 1989).