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Comparison At Dairy Farm Level Of Different Policies To Decrease Nutrient Losses To Ground And Surface Waters In The Netherlands

This paper describes and compares two governmental policies that aim to decrease nutrient losses from farming to ground and surface waters in the Netherlands. The mineral bookkeeping system (MINAS) is the first policy. It is applied in the Netherlands since 1998 and it is based on a farm gate balance approach. This national policy was definitely rejected on October 2, 2003 by the EU Court of Justice as it was considered not to comply fully with the EU Nitrate Directive. Consequently, the Netherlands developed the Application Standards Policy (ASP) based on a soil balance approach which will replace MINAS starting 2006. Especially for dairy farming, that combines plant and animal production, nutrient input and output at soil level are hard to determine as nutrient input via manure and nutrient output via grass and forage is not measured. ASP, therefore, works with standards leaving less incentives for individual farmers to improve their nutrient use efficiency through farm management. Comparison of the policies by means of modeling at farm level shows partial removal of manure and replacement of the nutrients in this manure by fertilizer for an intensive dairy farm when changing from MINAS to ASP. This leads to a decreased cost-effectiveness as nutrient losses remain roughly the same while the farm income decreases substantially. Also the income of an extensive dairy farm decreases, but there nutrient losses also decrease. The value of this last decrease is questionable, however, as the nutrient surpluses on the extensive farm are below the surpluses that are considered acceptable given the buffering capacity of the environment. The partial removal of manure from intensive farms will definitely lead to problems on the manure market in the Netherlands as it is already difficult in the current situation to place all the surplus manure in a responsible way on arable farms. Keywords: dairy farming, nutrient losses, environmental policy, nitrate directive, cost-effectiveness.
The Netherlands

Author(s): Berentsen P.B.M. (1)

Organization(s): Business Economics Group Wageningen University Wageningen (1)

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