IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

An experimental approach to assessment of trading and allocation mechanisms for nutrient trading


  • Marsh, Dan
  • Tucker, Steve
  • Doole, Graeme


Regional councils throughout New Zealand are in the process of drawing up plans to enable them to meet the requirements of the Resource Management Act and the National Policy Statement on freshwater. Some councils are working on targets for nutrient leaching at the catchment level and are considering alternative approaches to ensuring these targets are achieved. In this paper we investigate the farm level effects of agricultural policies by employing the methods of experimental economics to investigate alternative mechanisms for farm and catchment level regulations aimed at improving water quality. Results are presented for four cap and trade system designs in order to assess the effect of alternative approaches to allocation of nutrient discharge allowances and rules governing trade or exchange of these allowances. The objective of this study is to assess the utility of cap and trade systems through experimental economics, with a focus on the efficiency and equity of these mechanisms. Cap and trade systems are promoted as one of the major achievements of environmental economics. However, the move from theory to field implementation is a difficult transition, particularly due to the prevalence of uncertainty and the bounded cognitive ability of real agents. Data from the experiments enables comparison of the results of nutrient trading with the outcomes that would be expected based on economic theory. This assessment of the relative performance of cap and trade systems highlights important findings for environmental regulation. First, catchment profit is around 10% lower than predicted by theory. Second, the distribution of profit among farmers has little in common with that predicted by theory. Third, the trading behaviour of farmers bears little resemblance to theoretical predictions. Overall, these findings highlight the need to carefully assess the efficiency, equity and overall benefits of cap and trade systems for environmental regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Marsh, Dan & Tucker, Steve & Doole, Graeme, 2014. "An experimental approach to assessment of trading and allocation mechanisms for nutrient trading," 2014 Conference (58th), February 4-7, 2014, Port Macquarie, Australia 167195, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aare14:167195
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.167195

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jordan F. Suter & Christian A. Vossler & Gregory L. Poe & Kathleen Segerson, 2008. "Experiments on Damage-Based Ambient Taxes for Nonpoint Source Polluters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(1), pages 86-102.
    2. Graeme J. Doole & David J. Pannell, 2012. "Empirical evaluation of nonpoint pollution policies under agent heterogeneity: regulating intensive dairy production in the Waikato region of New Zealand," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 56(1), pages 82-101, January.
    3. Jon Ketcham & Vernon L. Smith & Arlington W. Williams, 1984. "A Comparison of Posted-Offer and Double-Auction Pricing Institutions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(4), pages 595-614.
    4. Giuseppe Attanasi & Samuele Centorrino & Ivan Moscati, 2011. "Double Auction Equilibrium and Efficiency in a Classroom Experimental Search Market," LERNA Working Papers 11.03.337, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Agricultural and Food Policy; Environmental Economics and Policy;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:aare14:167195. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.