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Tradeoffs Between Environmental Quality and Economic Returns from Agriculture: A Case Study of the Lower Little Bow Watershed, Alberta Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Becker, Marcus
Supervisor and department
Jeffrey, Scott (Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology)
Examining committee member and department
Boxall, Peter (Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology)
Miller, Jim (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
Chanasyk, David (Renewable Resources)
Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology
Agriculture and Resource Economics
Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Master of Science
Degree level
The aim of this study is to evaluate both the costs and benefits of implementing changes to agricultural practices, with the goal of identifying cost effective means of achieving environmental targets and providing supplementary information to policymakers. A suite of agricultural land use scenarios are developed to assess tradeoffs between economic returns from agriculture and indicators of environmental quality in the Lower Little Bow (LLB) watershed of southern Alberta. These scenarios, 11 in total, feature a range of beneficial management practices (BMPs) designed to improve select environmental criteria. Building upon research done previously on BMP adoption in the LLB watershed, the BMPs featured include alternative crop rotations, manure management strategies, and various land use conversions. The environmental factors of interest in this analysis are water quality and soil carbon levels, as represented by nutrient loads and changes to carbon sequestration rates, respectively. Results indicate that implementing BMPs in the LLB watershed to achieve environmental benefits will have negative impacts on economic performance and that policy changes may be necessary to induce land use changes. The results also demonstrate that certain land uses in the LLB watershed can achieve greater environmental benefits for less cost, which has important policy implications in an agricultural context.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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