Establishing nationally representative benchmarks of farm-gate nitrogen and phosphorus balances and use efficiencies on Irish farms to encourage improvements

dc.check.date2022-02-12
dc.check.infoAccess to this article is restricted until 24 months after publication by request of the publisher.en
dc.contributor.authorThomas, I. A.
dc.contributor.authorBuckley, C.
dc.contributor.authorKelly, E.
dc.contributor.authorDillon, E.
dc.contributor.authorLynch, J.
dc.contributor.authorMoran, B.
dc.contributor.authorHennessy, Thia
dc.contributor.authorMurphy, P. N. C.
dc.contributor.funderEnvironmental Protection Agencyen
dc.date.accessioned2020-03-10T12:05:56Z
dc.date.available2020-03-10T12:05:56Z
dc.date.issued2020-02-12
dc.date.updated2020-02-25T10:00:18Z
dc.description.abstractAgriculture faces considerable challenges of achieving more sustainable production that minimises nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) losses and meets international obligations for water quality and greenhouse gas emissions. This must involve reducing nutrient balance (NB) surpluses and increasing nutrient use efficiencies (NUEs), which could also improve farm profitability (a win-win). To set targets and motivate improvements in Ireland, nationally representative benchmarks were established for different farm categories (sector, soil group and production intensity). Annual farm-gate NBs (kg ha−1) and NUEs (%) for N and P were calculated for 1446 nationally representative farms from 2008 to 2015 using import and export data collected by the Teagasc National Farm Survey (part of the EU Farm Accountancy Data Network). Benchmarks for each category were established using quantile regression analysis and percentile rankings to identify farms with the lowest NB surplus per production intensity and highest gross margins (€ ha−1). Within all categories, large ranges in NBs and NUEs between benchmark farms and poorer performers show considerable room for nutrient management improvements. Results show that as agriculture intensifies, nutrient surpluses, use efficiencies and gross margins increase, but benchmark farms minimise surpluses to relatively low levels (i.e. are more sustainable). This is due to, per ha, lower fertiliser and feed imports, greater exports of agricultural products, relatively high stocking rates (except for tillage, mixed livestock and non-suckler cattle), and higher gross margins. For the ambitious scenario of all non-benchmark farms reaching the optimal benchmark zone, moderate reductions in farm nutrient surpluses were found with great improvements in profitability, leading to a 31% and 9% decrease in N and P surplus nationally, predominantly from dairy and non-suckler cattle. The study also identifies excessive surpluses for each level of production intensity, which could be used by policy in setting upper limits to improve sustainability.en
dc.description.sponsorshipEnvironmental Protection Agency (AgriBenchmark project under the Sustainability research call (2015-SE-DS-7)en
dc.description.statusPeer revieweden
dc.description.versionAccepted Versionen
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdfen
dc.identifier.citationThomas, I. A., Buckley, C., Kelly, E., Dillon, E., Lynch, J., Moran, B., Hennessy, T. and Murphy, P. N. C. (2020) 'Establishing nationally representative benchmarks of farm-gate nitrogen and phosphorus balances and use efficiencies on Irish farms to encourage improvements', Science of the Total Environment. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137245en
dc.identifier.doi10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137245en
dc.identifier.eissn1879-1026
dc.identifier.issn0048-9697
dc.identifier.journaltitleScience of the Total Environmenten
dc.identifier.urihttps://hdl.handle.net/10468/9740
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherElsevier B.V.en
dc.relation.urihttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720307555
dc.rights© 2020, Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.en
dc.rights.urihttps://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/en
dc.subjectBenchmarkingen
dc.subjectNutrient balanceen
dc.subjectNutrient use efficiencyen
dc.subjectSustainabilityen
dc.subjectAgricultureen
dc.subjectFADNen
dc.titleEstablishing nationally representative benchmarks of farm-gate nitrogen and phosphorus balances and use efficiencies on Irish farms to encourage improvementsen
dc.typeArticle (peer-reviewed)en
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