Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


Kent Kovacs

Committee Member

Michael P. Popp

Second Committee Member

Qiuqiong Huang

Third Committee Member

Klaus Eisenack

Fourth Committee Member

Robert Haight


afforestation, carbon, cost, effectiveness, land, land rotation, sequestration, subsidies, water conservation


Sequestration of atmospheric carbon in forested lands offsets carbon emissions from other industries. Conversion of private lands, particularly agricultural tracts in marginal areas, to forests can bolster carbon abatement. The United States government agencies administer some voluntary, incentive-based programs to encourage landowners to adopt production practices with positive environmental outcomes. This policy stream can be used to increase transition of marginal agricultural land to forests, thereby creating new carbon sinks. We analyze an eleven-county study area in the Arkansas Delta to determine feasibility for a subsidy focused on carbon abatement through afforestation. This study area is significant for two reasons: the long growing season and humid climate is ideal for fast growing trees such as loblolly pine, and groundwater depletion dynamics factor heavily into future optimal land use patterns. A spatially-explicit optimization programming model will determine the pattern of land use that maximizes discounted economic returns to landowners and explore responsiveness of optimal land use to government subsidies on forest activities. The result of this effort will assist policymakers in allocating limited resources to programs for greenhouse gas mitigation.