Applications of machine learning to agricultural land values: prediction and causal inference



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This dissertation focuses on the prediction of agricultural land values and the effects of water rights on land values using machine learning algorithms and hedonic pricing methods. I predict agricultural land values with different machine learning algorithms, including ridge regression, least absolute shrinkage and selection operator, random forests, and extreme gradient boosting methods. To analyze the causal effects of water right seniority on agricultural land values, I use the double-selection LASSO technique. The second chapter presents the data used in the dissertation. A unique set of parcel sales from Property Valuation Division of Kansas constitute the backbone of the data used in the estimation. Along with parcel sales data, I collected detailed basis, water, tax, soil, weather, and urban influence data. This chapter provides detailed explanation of various data sources and variable construction processes. The third chapter presents different machine learning models for irrigated agricultural land price predictions in Kansas. Researchers, and policymakers use different models and data sets for price prediction. Recently developed machine learning methods have the power to improve the predictive ability of the models estimated. In this chapter I estimate several machine learning models for predicting the agricultural land values in Kansas. Results indicate that the predictive power of the machine learning methods are stronger compared to standard econometric methods. Median absolute error in extreme gradient boosting estimation is 0.1312 whereas it is 0.6528 in simple OLS model. The fourth chapter examines whether water right seniority is capitalized into irrigated agricultural land values in Kansas. Using a unique data set of irrigated agricultural land sales, I analyze the causal effect of water right seniority on agricultural land values. A possible concern during the estimation of hedonic models is the omitted variable bias so we use double-selection LASSO regression and its variable selection properties to overcome the omitted variable bias. I also estimate generalized additive models to analyze the nonlinearities that may exist. Results show that water rights have a positive impact on irrigated land prices in Kansas. An additional year of water right seniority causes irrigated land value to increase nearly $17 per acre. Further analysis also suggest a nonlinear relationship between seniority and agricultural land prices.



Land Values, Machine Learning, Prediction, Causal Inference

Graduation Month



Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Nathan P. Hendricks