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Exploitation of soil biota ecosystem services in agriculture: a bioeconomic approach.

Keywords: Ecosystem services, land uses, agriculture, heterogeneous environment, time preferences.

Author(s): Sébastien Foudi

Date: 2012-24-02

Issue: 2012-02

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This paper analyzes the interactions between soil biota and agricultural practices in the exploitation of soil ecosystem services. A theoretical bioeconomic model stylized this set of interactions and combined a production function approach with optimal
control theory. In the model, a farmer decides his optimal use of external input and land use given that (i) land uses modify soil biota composition, (ii) the external input reduces soil biota population. The results show how the combination of ecological interactions, farmer's expectations on the evolution of the stock of soil biota and the technology of production determines the optimal decisions. The interpretation of the results helps to understand why and under which circumstances a sustainable or a non-sustainable use of soil ecosystem services may be optimal for farmers. A particular emphasis given to the role of property rights and time preferences in the use of soil biota services reveals the ambiguity of their role on the conservation of soil ecosystem services generated by soil biota.

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