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Managing agriculture and water quality


  • Brady, Mark


Water pollution caused by nutrients and chemicals that are leached from arable soils is a pervasive problem around the globe. The nonpoint-source nature of this pollu-tion makes it particularly complex to control from an environmental policy perspec-tive. This thesis focuses on the economics of managing arable-nitrogen flows, via surface waters to the coastal zone, from a large and spatially diverse catchment area. It is based on four self contained articles (I–IV). Article I considers the implications of time lags in ecosystem recovery processes for the dynamic cost-effectiveness of arable-nitrogen control. Article II evaluates the relative cost-efficiency of current Swedish nitrogen policy and the implications of agricultural policy for the least-cost solution. Article III analyzes the implications of covariation between arable emis-sions and retention/transport for stochastic coastal pollution abatement. Article IV explores the implications of imperfect substitutability between manure and chem-ical fertilizer in crop and pollution production for efficient environmental policy design. In each of articles I to III, a mathematical programming model is developed for the empirical analyses which are conducted in a cost-effectiveness framework. In these models changes in agricultural production practices at the watershed level are linked to indexes of marine water quality. In article I this is done explicitly, whereas in articles II and III net coastal nitrogen load is used as a proxy for environ-mental quality. The latter models also consider spatial heterogeneity in the fate and transport of nitrogen, and production costs. Article IV is purely a theoretical analysis. The principle results were; I) that the choice of abatement target (flow, stock or quality) had radical implications for the choice of abatement path, II) that least-cost abatement measures changed with the treatment of agricultural policy (i.e., whether treated as a social opportunity cost or not), III) under certain conditions, considera-tion of both emissions and retention risk caused a sweeping change in the allocation of abatement between regions/sub-catchments in the watershed, and IV) some of the standard results from the literature were shown not to hold (in general) when the perfect-substitutability assumption was dropped.

Suggested Citation

  • Brady, Mark, 2003. "Managing agriculture and water quality," Department of Economics publications 217, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sua:ekonwp:217

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    Cited by:

    1. Vatn, Arild & Bakken, Lars & Bleken, Marina A. & Baadshaug, Ole Hans & Fykse, Haldor & Haugen, Lars E. & Lundekvam, Helge & Morken, John & Romstad, Eirik & Rorstad, Per Kristian & Skjelvag, Arne O. & , 2006. "A methodology for integrated economic and environmental analysis of pollution from agriculture," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 88(2-3), pages 270-293, June.
    2. Helin, Janne, 2008. "Environmental protection of agriculture -clash of policies?," 107th Seminar, January 30-February 1, 2008, Sevilla, Spain 6468, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Koikkalainen, Kauko & Laukkanen, Marita & Helin, Janne, 2006. "Abatement costs for agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus loads: a case study of South-Western Finland," Discussion Papers 11867, MTT Agrifood Research Finland.
    4. Campos Labbé, Mónica, 2003. "The economics of technologies in Swedish pig production," Department of Economics publications 459, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics.

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