Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Sustainable Agriculture

First Advisor

Michael Duffy


The structure of land ownership in Iowa is rapidly changing. More than half of the state's land is rented. The average age of land owners has increased over time. This study examines the differences in adoption of conservation practices between absentee owners and owner operators. Specifically, this study investigates hitherto unexplored differences between absentee owners and owner operators found in previous studies (e.g., absentee owners, sole ownership, proximity of habitation to farm and reasons for owning land) regarding decisions to conserve land.

This study's 2006 survey data were analyzed using the non-parametric method (tau-b) and a parametric regression framework (logistic regressions). The results suggested that all conservation practices were not considered to be equal by landowners. Being an owner operator or absentee owner impacted the decision to use certain types of conservation practices. Absentee owners tend to adopt the structural (expensive) conservation practices more than owner operators, whereas both types of owners equally adopt inexpensive conservation practices. Being an absentee owner or owner operator does not impact the probability of having land enrolled in a government conservation program. Age, education, place of residence, owned agricultural land and reasons for owning land seem to affect the adoption of each practice individually. However, knowledge about the cost-share program does have a positive impact on adoption, regardless of the type of conservation practices.

Ultimately, there is a need for more investigation to increase our knowledge of absentee owners, the reasons land owners choose to be absentee owners and their motivations to conserve land. This study found that landowners rarely used the internet for management information regarding their land. Similarly a very low percentage of landowners said the internet was their preferred way to receive such information. Reasons why the internet was not more widely used should be explored. Finally, policy makers should consider absentee owners as being strategically different from owner operators when creating conservation policies.


Copyright Owner

Majd Abdulla



Date Available


File Format


File Size

165 pages

Included in

Economics Commons