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Towards a method for the economic evaluation of environmental indicators for UK integrated arable farming systems

Towards a method for the economic evaluation of environmental indicators for UK integrated arable farming systems

Agriculture ecosystems and environment 72(2): 145-158

Integrated arable farming systems (IAFS), which involve a reduction in the use of off-farm inputs, are attracting considerable research interest in the UK. The objectives of these systems' experiments are to compare their financial performance with that from conventional or current farming practices. To date, this comparison has taken little account of any environmental benefits (or dis-benefits) of the two systems. The objective of this paper is to review the assessment methodologies available for the analysis of environmental impacts. To illustrate the results of this exercise, the methodology and environmental indicators chosen are then applied to data from one of the LINK-Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) experimental sites. Data from the Pathhead site in southern Scotland are used to evaluate the use of invertebrates and nitrate loss as environmental indicators within IAFS. The results suggest that between 1992 and 1995 the biomass of earthworms fell by 278 kg ha-1 on the integrated rotation and rose by 308 kg ha-1 on the conventional system. This led to environmental costs ranging between 22.24 pounds and 133.44 pounds per hectare for the integrated system and gains of between 24.64 pounds and 147.84 pounds for the conventional system. In terms of nitrate, the integrated system had an estimated loss of 72.21 pounds per hectare in comparison to 149.40 pounds per hectare on the conventional system. Conclusions are drawn about the advantages and disadvantages of this type of analytical framework.

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Accession: 003320559

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DOI: 10.1016/s0167-8809(98)00171-6

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