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Agricultural land management strategies to reduce phosphorus loads in the Gippsland Lakes, Australia

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  • Roberts, Anna M.
  • Pannell, David J.
  • Doole, Graeme
  • Vigiak, Olga

Abstract

A target to reduce phosphorus flows into the Gippsland Lakes in south-eastern Australia by 40% in order to improve water quality has previously been established by stakeholders. This target, like many others worldwide, has been set mostly on the basis of environmental concerns, with limited consideration of issues such as technical feasibility, socio-economic constraints, political factors and associated costs and benefits. An integrated analysis at the catchment scale is undertaken to assess the agricultural land management changes required to achieve this target, and to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of these changes. Based on assumptions used, it appears technically feasible to achieve a 40% reduction in P load entering the Lakes. However, the least-costly way of doing so would require around A$1 billion over 25years, a dramatic increase in the current levels of funding provided for management. Results of a sensitivity analysis indicate that there is little or no chance of investment in a 40% reduction being cost-effective. On the other hand, a 20% P reduction could be achieved at much lower cost: around $80 million over 25years and requiring more modest land-management changes. Reliance on voluntary adoption of ‘Current Recommended Practices’ is unlikely to deliver changes in management practices at the scale required to have sufficient environmental impacts. Enforcement of existing regulations for the dairy industry would be amongst the most cost-effective management strategies. The major implications of this work for agriculturally induced diffuse-source pollution include the need for feedback between goal setting and program costs, and consideration of factors such as the levels of landholder adoption of new practices that are required and the feasibility of achieving those adoption levels. Costs, landholder adoption of new practices and socio-political risks appear neglected in the formulation of many water quality programs. The study provides a demonstration of an approach to integrated multidisciplinary research addressing complex environmental problems with multiple decision makers, multiple stakeholders, and high uncertainty. On the evidence of experience in this study, the approach deserves consideration in other contexts.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Agricultural Systems.

Volume (Year): 106 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 11-22

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Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:106:y:2012:i:1:p:11-22

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/agsy

Related research

Keywords: Benefit:Cost analysis; Dairy; Diffuse source; Trade-offs;

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References

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  1. Alfons Weersink & Scott Jeffrey & David Pannell, 2002. "Farm-Level Modeling for Bigger Issues," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 24(1), pages 123-140.
  2. Leon, L. F. & Booty, W. G. & Bowen, G. S. & Lam, D. C. L., 2004. "Validation of an agricultural non-point source model in a watershed in southern Ontario," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 59-75, February.
  3. Rice, Ronald W. & Izuno, Forrest T. & Garcia, Raymond M., 2002. "Phosphorus load reductions under best management practices for sugarcane cropping systems in the Everglades Agricultural Area," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 17-39, July.
  4. Pannell, David J., 1997. "Sensitivity analysis of normative economic models: theoretical framework and practical strategies," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 16(2), pages 139-152, May.
  5. Pannell, David J. & Roberts, Anna M. & Park, Geoff & Curatolo, April & Marsh, Sally P. & Alexander, Jennifer, 2011. "Integrated assessment of public investment in land-use change to protect environmental assets in Australia," Working Papers 102455, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  6. Dono, Gabriele & Mazzapicchio, Graziano, 2010. "Uncertain water supply in an irrigated Mediterranean area: An analysis of the possible economic impact of climate change on the farm sector," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(6), pages 361-370, July.
  7. Kay, Paul & Edwards, Anthony C. & Foulger, Miles, 2009. "A review of the efficacy of contemporary agricultural stewardship measures for ameliorating water pollution problems of key concern to the UK water industry," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 99(2-3), pages 67-75, February.
  8. David J. Pannell, 2008. "Public Benefits, Private Benefits, and Policy Mechanism Choice for Land-Use Change for Environmental Benefits," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(2), pages 225-240.
  9. Suzi Kerr & Kit Rutherford & Kelly Lock, 2007. "Nutrient Trading in Lake Rotorua: Goals and Trading Caps," Working Papers 07_08, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  10. Sharpley, Andrew N. & Gburek, William J. & Folmar, G. & Pionke, H. B., 1999. "Sources of phosphorus exported from an agricultural watershed in Pennsylvania," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 77-89, July.
  11. Maticic, Brane, 1999. "The impact of agriculture on ground water quality in Slovenia: standards and strategy," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(2-3), pages 235-247, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. 210 – Under-estimating the costs of environmental protection
    by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-03-19 12:00:00
  2. 210 – Under-estimating the costs of environmental protection
    by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-03-18 23:48:04
  3. 235 – Ranking environmental projects 1
    by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2013-04-30 16:03:56
  4. 257 – Be smart, use SMART goals
    by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2013-11-18 15:00:50
  5. 261 – Agricultural water pollution
    by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2014-01-27 15:00:37
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