Rental shares of agricultural land are increasing in many countries, as are soil degradation and erosion. Theory suggests that these trends may be correlated, yet empirical findings are ambiguous. This research investigates the relationship between land tenure and farmers' soil management and aims to disentangle the mechanisms involved. We survey Austrian crop farmers and find no differences in farmers' soil management practices between rented and owned land. We consider several explanatory factors such as contract details, landlord-tenant relationships, and plot characteristics and find that these are important factors mediating the conventionally assumed negative effect of cropland leasing on soil conservation.
Property rights Land ownership Land rental Soil conservation Farmer behaviour Landlord-tenant relationship