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Water footprinting – A comparison of methods using New Zealand dairy farming as a case study


  • Zonderland-Thomassen, M.A.
  • Ledgard, S.F.


A case study is presented to (1) assess the water footprint of New Zealand (NZ) dairy farming in two contrasting regions of Waikato (North Island, non-irrigated moderate rainfall) and Canterbury (South Island, irrigated low rainfall), (2) illustrate differences in water footprint methods and (3) evaluate the suitability of indicators derived from each water footprint method. The water footprint methods (1) water footprint following the Water Footprint Network (WF-WFN), (2) stress-weighted water footprint (WF-Ridoutt), following Ridoutt and Pfister (2010) and Ridoutt et al. (2010), (3) environmental impacts of freshwater consumption expressed in damage to resources (ΔR), damage to ecosystem quality (ΔEQ), and damage to human health (ΔHH) following Pfister et al. (2009), and (4) freshwater ecosystem impacts (FEIs) and freshwater depletion (FD) following Milà i Canals et al. (2009, 2010) were applied to two average dairy systems in the different regions.

Suggested Citation

  • Zonderland-Thomassen, M.A. & Ledgard, S.F., 2012. "Water footprinting – A comparison of methods using New Zealand dairy farming as a case study," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 30-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:110:y:2012:i:c:p:30-40
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.03.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neal, J.S. & Fulkerson, W.J. & Hacker, R.B., 2011. "Differences in water use efficiency among annual forages used by the dairy industry under optimum and deficit irrigation," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(5), pages 759-774, March.
    2. Markus Berger & Matthias Finkbeiner, 2010. "Water Footprinting: How to Address Water Use in Life Cycle Assessment?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1-26, April.
    3. Gerbens-Leenes, P.W. & Hoekstra, A.Y. & van der Meer, Th., 2009. "The water footprint of energy from biomass: A quantitative assessment and consequences of an increasing share of bio-energy in energy supply," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 1052-1060, February.
    4. Aldaya, M.M. & Hoekstra, A.Y., 2010. "The water needed for Italians to eat pasta and pizza," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(6), pages 351-360, July.
    5. Tait, Peter R. & Cullen, Ross & Bicknell, Kathryn, 2008. "Valuing agricultural externalities in Canterbury rivers and streams," 2008 Conference, August 28-29, 2008, Nelson, New Zealand 96445, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
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    Cited by:

    1. Krauß, Michael & Kraatz, Simone & Drastig, Katrin & Prochnow, Annette, 2015. "The influence of dairy management strategies on water productivity of milk production," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 175-186.
    2. Toro-Mujica, Paula & Aguilar, Claudio & Vera, Raúl & Cornejo, Karen, 2016. "A simulation-based approach for evaluating the effects of farm type, management, and rainfall on the water footprint of sheep grazing systems in a semi-arid environment," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 75-85.
    3. Dourte, Daniel R. & Fraisse, Clyde W. & Uryasev, Oxana, 2014. "WaterFootprint on AgroClimate: A dynamic, web-based tool for comparing agricultural systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 33-41.


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