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Assessing ammonia emission abatement measures in agriculture: Farmers' costs and society's benefits – A case study for Lower Saxony, Germany

Susanne Wagner, Elisabeth Angenendt, Olga Beletskaya and Jürgen Zeddies

Agricultural Systems, 2017, vol. 157, issue C, 70-80

Abstract: Ammonia (NH3) emissions have adverse impacts on the environment and, being a precursor for fine particulate matter, also on human health. About 95% of NH3 emissions in Germany originate from agriculture, mainly from livestock husbandry. This case study is aimed at presenting an approach that evaluates NH3 emission abatement measures in agriculture regarding their abatement costs for farmers and their benefits for the society in terms of avoided external costs of health damages and loss of terrestrial biodiversity. Following the impact-pathway chain, an economic-ecological farm model for estimating NH3 emission reductions and abatement costs was combined with an environmental impact assessment model for estimating the benefits for human health and biodiversity. The case study analysed a variety of manure storage cover and application techniques in Lower Saxony, a region in the north-west of Germany with the highest livestock density in Germany and high NH3 emissions. In the reference situation, the damage costs of NH3 emissions were EUR 2.7 billion. The implementation of concrete storage covers and slurry injection, the most effective measures, reduced NH3 emissions by 25% and achieved net benefits of EUR 505 million. Farmers' abatement costs averaged over all farms ranged from EUR 3.6 to 6.8 per kilogramme NH3 reduced. The abatement costs per farm type ranged from EUR 2.4 to 16.6 for floating plastic covers and from EUR 2.2 to 11.4 for concrete covers. The abatement costs for floating plastic covers were lower for grazing livestock specialists, while the abatement costs for concrete covers were lower for pig specialists, poultry specialists and mixed farms. Farm type specific abatement costs for manure application techniques ranged from EUR 4.5 to 9.6 per kilogramme NH3 reduced with little variation between trailing shoe and cultivator/injector techniques. Abatement costs for trailing shoe application were lower than for cultivator/injector application for grazing livestock specialists, poultry specialists and mixed farms. The average benefits per kilogramme NH3 reduced were EUR 14.1 for health and EUR 10.4 for biodiversity, totalling EUR 24.5. As the benefits exceed the abatement costs for all measures analysed in this study, principally, they can be recommended for implementation. However, the variation in abatement potentials and costs per farm type indicate differences in suitability. While manure covers should above all be implemented by pig specialists because of their high abatement potential, manure application techniques should be implemented by grazing livestock specialists. Among manure storage covers, floating plastic covers are more favourable for grazing livestock specialists, whereas concrete covers are more suitable for all other farm types. The analysis with the farm model was considered more appropriate than recent analyses at technical or macroeconomic level, because the abatement costs reflect differences in farm types, detailed production processes and farmers' profit-maximising behaviour. Overall, it can be concluded that an assessment of NH3 emission abatement measures should be carried out for farm types and should consider impacts of NH3 emission abatement both on human health and biodiversity. The presented modelling approach enables to estimate abatement costs for farm types and benefits for human health and biodiversity. Cost-efficient NH3 emission abatement measures tailored to farm types can be identified and farm type specific regional abatement strategies can be developed.

Keywords: Agricultural modelling; Air pollution control; Economic-ecological modelling; Environmental impact assessment; Health damage; Biodiversity loss (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:70-80