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Enhanced cost-effective agri-environmental measures for groundwater protection

Author(s): An economic and ecological modelling approach
Congress: 2008
Author(s): Thomas Schmidt, Tania Runge, Ralf Kunkel, Bernhard Osterburg
Thomas Schmidt(a), Tania Runge(a), Ralf Kunkel(b), Bernhard Osterburg(a) (a)Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL), Institute of Rural Studies, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany (b)Agrosphere Institute, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52425 Jülich, Germany Corresponding author: Thomas Schmidt, Phone: ++49 (0) 53

Keyword(s): agri- environmental measures, cost-effectiveness, groundwater, modeling
AbstractIntroduction In order to comply with the EU Water Framework Directive, the EU member countries have to generate so called river basin management plans as basis for a sustainable water management. In Germany is the biggest challenge the reduction of the nitrogen load in groundwater, which is mainly caused by diffuse discharge due to agricultural activities. The N losses in the leachate should not exceed the level of 50 mg/l to reach the good ecological status of groundwater. The administrative bodies have to establish cost-effective programmes that pay regard to limited financial resources. Objective Within the EU-LIFE-project WAgriCo (Water Resources Management in Cooperation with Agriculture) an innovative program of voluntary measures is investigated. Ecological consequences as well as the economic effects are analyzed, using a spatial modelling approach added by an on-road test. With the help of an economic and environmental modelling approach the effects of agri-environmental measures are analyzed at large scale. The WAgriCo-project outcomes demonstrate a new strategy that deals with measure combinations and considers both the agricultural structures regarding the farm management systems as well as natural site conditions. Methods Data about natural characteristics allows a delineation of target areas for groundwater protection using an integrated hydro-geological model approach. The model provides also a simulation of the potential nitrate concentrations in seepage water for the entire study area on a 50 x 50 m resolution. Study area is the north-western part of Germany, the federal state ´Lower Saxony´ of about 48,000 km². Within the project 13 suitable action-oriented measures with detailed management prescriptions were selected and are described by its costs. The expected ecological effects and possible measure combinations are determined. Furthermore an innovative result-oriented measure that rewards the improvement of N efficiency directly is assessed. Results The potential ecologic effects of the fourteen agri-environmental measures are estimated using the emission indicator N-surplus reduction in respect to different site conditions. The link to agricultural structures and natural conditions of the study area gives the opportunity to project the single economic numbers at large scale. The hydro-geological model simulates three scenarios for 2015: A. the potential nitrate load and concentrations of the leachate with the N surplus and agricultural structures of the year 2003 as baseline, B. the tolerable N surplus according to the environmental target of 50 mg/l in leachate and C. the water quality after implementation of the WAgriCo-measures. Conclusion The modelling approach delivers an economic and ecological projection of agri-environmental measures at large scale. It is determined by expert knowledge, project results about measures effectiveness and the model in use itself. The outcomes show not only the most appropriate adaptation of the selected measures, but also the optimum programming of limited financial resources.
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