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Optimal pest control in agriculture. (English) Zbl 1163.91512
Summary: Based on economic methodology we model an ecosystem with two species in predator-prey relationship: mice feed on grain and grain feeds on a resource. With optimizing behavior of individual organisms a short-run ecosystem equilibrium is defined and characterized that depends on the farmer’s use of fertilizer and pesticide and on the mice population which, in turn, is affected by pesticides. In that way, a microfounded agricultural production function is derived. Linking a sequence of short-run ecosystem equilibria yields the growth function of the mice population which is thus derived rather than assumed. In each period the farmer harvests all grain in excess of some given amount of seed. If she maximizes her present-value profits, optimal farming is characterized by either using no pesticide or a moderate amount of pesticide or by applying a chattering control. Pest eradication is never optimal. On the other hand, if the farmer takes into account steady-state mice populations only, it may be optimal to eradicate mice or to use no or a moderate amount of pesticide depending on prices as well as on the shape of the grain production function which is determined by microparameters of grain reproduction.

MSC:
91B76 Environmental economics (natural resource models, harvesting, pollution, etc.)
49N90 Applications of optimal control and differential games
91B62 Economic growth models
92D40 Ecology
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