Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


Lanier Nalley

Committee Member

Trenton Roberts

Second Committee Member

Marijke D'Haese

Third Committee Member

Alvaro Durand-Morat

Fourth Committee Member

Aaron Shew


Economic Outcomes, Environmental Outcomes, Nitrogen, Production, Rice, Soil Testing


Soil testing has become an increasingly important tool in making agronomically efficient production management decisions. N-STaR is a N test used in rice production and is unique in its ability to selectively quantify soil organic-N compounds which are readily mineralizable for plant N uptake and contribute to growth and yield. This study uses historical (2002–2018) adoption rates of N-STaR, which is funded through Rice Checkoff funds, to calculate the total cost savings from N-STaR adoption. These cost savings alone would be the “typical” benefits used in a benefit-cost ratio of a public ally funded research program like N-STaR. However, we use an LCA to quantitatively compare the cradle-to-farm gate environmental impacts of replacing traditional blanket rice N recommendations with field specific N recommendations via N-STaR adoption. The summation of these two (cost savings and reduced environmental impacts) are aggregated and compared to the amount of money that the Arkansas Rice Checkoff program has invested in N-STaR research and dissemination. The results of this study indicate that for every dollar that producers spend on N-STaR tests, as well as accounting for their checkoff contributions, they receive an average benefit of $15.74 and $53.66 without and with ecosystem services, respectively. Unlike yield-enhancing research that can have quick tangible benefits, input reduction research typically leads to marginal reductions in costs which producers can easily misidentify as simply adopting best management practices. That being said, there are often acknowledged but seldom quantified benefits associated with input-savings technologies such as N-STaR, specifically related to fertilizer, such as the avoided environmental impacts provided via N reduction. Our findings suggest that by overlooking the environmental benefits of N-STaR adoption, the benefit-cost ratio would be underestimated by 286%.