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Trends and Drivers of Agri-environmental Performance in OECD Countries

image of Trends and Drivers of Agri-environmental Performance in OECD Countries

This report updates the data published in the 2015 OECD Compendium of Agri-environmental Indicators to present a summary of the environmental performance of agriculture in OECD countries as of end-2015. It also includes new and innovative material to further strengthen its relevance as a reference document. In particular, the four thematic chapters each cover a targeted set of indicators for which data coverage is generally more consistent across time in OECD countries and that capture the main pressures agriculture exerts on the environment. The thematic chapters cover the following areas: the interlinked issues of land use, pesticides and farmland birds; ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions, the main air pollutants from agricultural activities; nitrogen and phosphorus balances, two indicators that signal air and water pollution; and water use and irrigation in agriculture.

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Executive Summary

The environmental performance of the agriculture sector registered some improvement in OECD countries during the period 2003-15, notwithstanding some signs of stagnation in particular areas. The majority of OECD countries saw decreasing trends in ammonia emissions, phosphorus surplus and water abstraction rates. Results were more mixed for nitrogen balances, which, while declining on average, nevertheless, increased in several countries, including in some with already high nitrogen surplus levels. A lack of progress was also observed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and on improving biodiversity on farmland. Greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in the OECD region, while the farmland birds’ indicator, the main OECD indicator used to track biodiversity on farmland, continued to decline in the majority of countries for which monitoring was undertaken. Overall, improvements in the environmental performance of the agricultural sector slowed down during the period 2003-15, relative to the pace observed over the period 1993-2005.

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