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Impact on pollution risk

The model shows that impacts on pollution risk are fairly insignificant across all regions, which implies that decoupling has no general implications for pollution; see Brady et al. (2007) for detailed results. This is because pollution is influenced primarily by crop-specific characteristics given the geophysical characteristics of a region, and the balance between crop and livestock output, rather than production per se. In the more intensively cultivated regions (Vysocina and the Mediterranean) decoupling lead to increased areas of previously unsupported crops. The concomitant change in the pollution characteristics of the crop mix resulted in changes in levels of pollution as measured by nitrogen surplus (Figure 12.6). In Vysocina and Marche the area of more pollution-prone crops increased as a result of decoupling and consequently nitrogen surplus increased. On the other hand, a reduction in the area of nitrogen-intensive crops in Calabria resulted in a lower nitrogen surplus. However, an increase in the area of vegetables, which consume more chemicals and water, resulted in increased chemical (not shown) and water inputs in Calabria (Figure 12.7).

In high-cost regions, it seems reasonable to expect that pollution risk would decline with decoupling due to the reduction in the cultivated area. However, the results for Jonkoping illustrate that this may not necessarily be the case for nutrient surpluses and hence water quality. Unlike chemical sprays, nutrient surplus is not a function of land use alone but also of livestock numbers and hence manure volume. In Jonkoping, both livestock numbers and the cultivated area decrease in the decoupling scenarios but the volume of manure decreases proportionately less than the area of land suitable for spreading manure (i.e. land in cultivation and excluding GAEC). Hence, the nutrient surplus in total and as measured in kg/ha increases in 2013 compared to 2004 in all scenarios. Ultimately, the impact of agriculture on water quality will depend on the geophysical capacity of the region to assimilate excess nutrients. In Jonkoping, this capacity is quite high due to heavy soils and long water pathways to the sea.

Finally, the REFORM (and BOND) resulted in accelerated soil loss in Vysocina (Figure 12.7) (NB: erosion risk was only modelled for Vysocina since it is not a significant issue in the other regions). This result is explained by substitution to more erosion-prone crops rather than decoupling per se. Given the serious nature of soil erosion problems in the Czech Republic, this result should be of great concern. There seems in other words to be a pressing need to coordinate erosion prevention measures and CAP payments.

Figure 12.6. Change in nitrogen surplus

kg/ha utilized agricultural area

Change in soil loss (Vysocina ) and water input (Marche and Calabria)

Figure 12.7. Change in soil loss (Vysocina ) and water input (Marche and Calabria)

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