Farm gate level nitrogen balance and use efficiency changes post implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive


Buckley, C; Wall, DP; Moran, B; O'Neill, S; Murphy, PNC; (2016) Farm gate level nitrogen balance and use efficiency changes post implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 104 (1). pp. 1-13. ISSN 1385-1314 DOI: 10.1007/s10705-015-9753-y

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Abstract

Farm gate nitrogen (N) balance and use efficiency was estimated across 150 specialist Irish dairy farms over a 7 year period between 2006 and 2012 using nationally representative data. The study period coincided with the introduction of EU Nitrates Directive regulations aimed at minimising losses of N to the aquatic environment and results indicated that N balance declined by 25.1 kg ha(-1) from 180.4 to 155.3 kg ha(-1) over the study period. This decline can almost entirely be attributed to reduced chemical N fertiliser inputs of 23.1 kg ha(-1) over the period, equivalent to 1247 kg N, or a cost saving of a,not sign1347 per annum across the average dairy farm. Nitrogen use efficiency also increased by 2.1 % points over the period from 20.8 to 22.9 %. This was achieved while increasing milk solids output from 405.3 to 449.6 kg ha(-1) in the context of a declining stocking rate (1.86-1.84 livestock units ha(-1)). These results suggest some positive impact of the regulations on N management on Irish dairy farms at the nutrient source end of the nutrient transfer continuum. This increased N management efficiency has a potential double dividend effect of increased returns to agricultural production while reducing the risk of N transfer to the aquatic environment. In addition to the introduction of the regulations, results of a random effects panel data model indicated that N balance and use efficiency are significantly influenced by factors such as fertiliser prices, stocking rates, land use potential, contact with extension services and climatic variables.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Nitrogen, Farm gate balance, Nitrogen use efficiency, Random effects, panel data model, DAIRY FARMS, NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL-POLICY, WATER-QUALITY, AGRICULTURE, PHOSPHORUS, INDICATORS, GRASSLAND, IRELAND, DETERMINANTS
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Health Services Research and Policy
Research Centre: Centre for Statistical Methodology
Web of Science ID: 369003700001
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/2533996

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