Water and Agriculture

Sustainability, Markets and Policies

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Agriculture is a major user of water and is responsible for much of its pollution. But the agricultural sector faces increasing competition for scarce water supplies from urban and industrial users and, increasingly, to sustain ecosystems.  This conference proceedings explores how both governments and the private sector can expand the role of markets to allocate water used by all sectors and to get agricultural producers to account for the pollution that their sector generates.



Tool for Monitoring and Evaluating the On-farm Environment Management and Nutrient Use on Finnish Cattle Farms

Diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA) is a significant contributor to the longterm degradation of UK rivers, lakes and groundwaters — 70 % of nitrates and 44 % of phosphorus loads in UK surface waters comes from agriculture. Within the EC, the key driver for tackling DWPA is the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The paper discusses the approach being taken in the UK to meet the challenging targets set by WFD through Catchment-Sensitive Farming (CSF). The challenge is to identify appropriate and most cost-effective measures for tackling the impact of farming on the environment while ensuring, in the long term, a sustainable farming industry. This paper details the current policies in place including action under the EC Nitrates Directive, Environmental Stewardship Schemes under CAP and activity to encourage early voluntary action by farmers (CSF Delivery project). Details of the complementary work being taken forward on the use of other policy instruments, such as regulation and analysis on development of an effective package of policy measures for tackling DWPA, is also discussed.Nitrogen and phosphorus balances as well as the Usability Classification of Waters are used as national indicators to monitor the trends in nutrient use and their effects on the environment. In addition to national rules, regulations and actions, voluntary approaches to minimise nutrient leaching as well as more specific, farm-level indicators have been developed. One example of such approaches is the voluntary Cattle Farm Environmental Auditing Tool (CFEAT), which helps a farmer to optimise and benchmark certain farm management activities on the farm level in order to achieve more environmentallyfriendly management practices. CFEAT has been created and developed by the Association of Rural Advisory Centres (ProAgria ARAC), which is a non-governmental agricultural expert organisation in Finland. CFEAT helps farmers to classify and evaluate their normal, day-to-day cultivation activities (nutrient and manure use, tillage) and animal husbandry. More emphasis is given to activities which have the most beneficial effects on the environment and animal welfare and which go beyond the mandatory level. Evaluation is carried out together with a ProAgria ARAC adviser and the results, combined with farm-level quality or environment systems, help farmers to find concrete measures and targets for developing farm management practices. The use of CFEAT started already in 1995. The number of dairy and cattle farms evaluated by means of CFEAT by 2005 is 1337, which is about 1% of the total number of dairy and cattle farms in Finland, but the number has been rising steadily. The results concerning nutrient leaching from arable area are promising: the nitrogen effluent has decreased, on average, by 4-15% and solid phosphorus by 5-13% as a result of the introduction of better and more efficient methods for the management of nutrients and use and handling of livestock manure. The load of soluble phosphorus is about the same as before.


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