Assessing the Impact of Farmer Field Schools on Excessive Fertilizer Use in China


Many Chinese farmers use excessively high rates of nitrogen fertilizer, and they often do not know about the adverse effects of excess fertilizer entering soil and water systems. Moreover, the lack of accountability in China's current public agricultural extension system makes that system ineffective at delivering fertilizer training and knowledge to individual farmers.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) is addressing this problem by instituting farmer field schools (FFS), hoping to avoid the pitfalls of the traditional agricultural extension system by using local farmer-trainers to improve accountability and effectiveness through a participatory training approach. However, rigorous evaluation of the FFS has not been conducted to date.


This project evaluates the environmental and socioeconomic impact of fertilizer-related training provided by the MOA’s FFS program to Chinese farmers. RAND and the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) designed and implemented a randomized controlled trial (RCT) experiment in 52 villages in two provinces. The results of this impact evaluation will help policy makers design and scale up cost-effective FFS programs throughout China. The findings from this study will also have implications for other developing countries in improving their efficiency in agricultural nitrogen fertilizer use.

Data Available

The data from this project can be made available to the public. Please contact the authors regarding data requests.


This project is sponsored by 3ie.