Do farmers adopt fewer conservation practices on rented land? Evidence from straw retention in China

Gao, Li
Zhang, Wendong
Mei, Yingdan
Sam, Abdoul
Song, Yu
Jin, Shuqin
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We examine how land tenure arrangements affect Chinese crop farmers’ adoption of straw retention, a key conservation practice promoted by the Chinese government in part to curb rising air pollution. Using data from a 2016 farmer household survey covering 1,659 crop plots in Henan Province in central China, we analyze whether farmers are less likely to adopt straw retention on rented plots compared to own-contracted plots. To address the potential endogeneity of the choice of renting from others, we use an instrument exploiting the role of remittance income from household members migrated to cities in a bivariate probit model and a control function approach, respectively. Our main results reveal that the Chinese crop farmers’ likelihood of adopting straw retention were almost cut in half on rented plots compared to their owned plots, assuming the assumptions for biprobit or control functions hold. This suggests greater attention is needed to examine the spillovers across agricultural and environmental policies as China pushes for both a nationwide land rental market and more sustainable agricultural practices.


This is a working paper of an article published as Gao, Li, Wendong Zhang, Yingdan Mei, Abdoul G. Sam, Yu Song, and Shuqin Jin. "Do farmers adopt fewer conservation practices on rented land? Evidence from straw retention in China." Land use policy 79 (2018): 609-621. doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.08.026. Posted with permission.

land tenure, conservation practice, control function, bivariate probit, Chinese agriculture