• O33;
  • Q16
  • Technical change;
  • Agricultural innovation;
  • Impact assessment


This article updates total factor productivity (TFP) growth in UK agriculture from 1953–2005 and shows that public and private research and returns to scale explain TFP. Cointegration and causality tests are used to investigate the validity of attempts to explain UK agricultural productivity with R&D and related technology variables. Then, the length and shape of the lag structures are modeled and compared with the structures that are commonly imposed on the data. The rates of return (ROR) to R&D using the data determined lags differ considerably from those obtained by imposing lag shapes. These comparisons show that the ROR to public R&D are sensitive to the lag shape as well as its length and that the omission of other technology variables, such as mechanical and chemical patents pertaining to agriculture and farm size can bias the ROR.