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Content archived on 2024-05-21

Systems approach to environmentally acceptable farming


Problems to be solved
Rising concern about agricultural non-point water pollution has led to propose many regulatory measures. Agri-environmental programmes have been implemented in the different EU Member States according to the Commission regulation 2078/92. Best management practices (BMPs), one of the most popular tools, have rarely been assessed in a fully satisfying way yet. This project aims at providing planners with a grid that would allow a comparison between BMPs in terms of environmental efficiency, economic cost and potential acceptability by farmers.
Expected results should contribute to help Member States choosing the most appropriate measures and ways for an efficient implementation of BMPs, with the support of scientifically validated technical and economic recommendations, thus contributing to various EU policies such as CAP, Instruction 91/676/CEE, Instruction 80/778/CEE, and more generally the European water policy.
Scientific objectives and approach
A comparison between different existing or simulated BMPs will be carried out through a cost/effectiveness assessment along with the study of their acceptability by farmers. Effectiveness will be assessed as the evolution of water quality resulting from BMPs' implementation in experimental watersheds. Particular efforts will be carried out to improve BMPs representation in hydrological models, as they can take various forms (landscape structures, agronomic recommendations). Spatial modelling, at various scales, will be used to define critical areas where efforts should be concentrated. As for costs, efforts will concern the evaluation of both direct and indirect costs induced by BMPs implementation. When studying diffuse pollution, individual contributions and de-pollution costs are not known and have to be assessed. Direct costs will therefore be estimated through the definition of contract menus in a Principal/Agent modelling framework. Indirect costs will be estimated as the impact of BMPs on all other branches of the economy with the use of a general equilibrium model. A cost/effectiveness ratio will be calculated for each studied BMP, allowing a comparison of possible alternatives. Unfortunately farmers do not apply BMPs as would be desirable. Possible explanations are that of their low environmental commitment and insufficient implementation practices. Extensive interviews will be carried out to account for the social dimension of farmers' decision-making process. In addition, complementary interviews with land managers will help finding out what are the implementation practices used and problems encountered. This will aim at defining new negotiative implementation methods which will be evaluated in a demonstration project involving both local land managers and farmers.
Expected impacts
Short term results will consist in a potential cost/effectiveness ratio. Based on the experience of case studies, the project will provide a methodological guideline designed to assess BMPs on the three dimensions of effectiveness, cost and acceptability. Thanks to this integrated assessment of existing and potential BMPs, the expected selection grid should contribute to building a decision support tool both for the EU to implement the eco-conditionality regulation, and, at a local scale, for land managers and local planners to face water resource management related issues.

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EU contribution
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Avenue de Verdun 50 Gazinet

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Participants (10)