Estimating the mitigation of anthropogenic loss of phosphorus in New Zealand grassland catchments
Managing phosphorus in catchments is central to improving surface water quality, but knowing how much can be mitigated from agricultural land, and at what cost relative to a natural baseline (or reference condition), is difficult to assess. The difference between median concentrations now and under reference was defined as the anthropogenic loss, while the manageable loss was defined as the median P concentration possible without costing more than 10% of farm profitability (measured as earnings before interest and tax, EBIT). Nineteen strategies to mitigate P loss were ranked according to cost (low, medium, high, very high). Using the average dairy and drystock farms in 14 grassland catchments as test cases, the potential to mitigate P loss from land to water was then modelled for different strategies, beginning with strategies within the lowest cost category from best to least effective, before applying a strategy from a more expensive category. The anthropogenic contribution to stream median FRP and TP concentrations was estimated as 44 and 69%, respectively. However, applying up to three strategies per farm theoretically enabled mitigation of FRP and TP losses sufficient to maintain aesthetic and trout fishery values to be met and at a cost < 1% EBIT for drystock farms and < 6% EBIT for dairy farms. This shows that defining and acting upon the manageable loss in grassland catchments (with few point sources) has potential to achieve a water quality outcome within an ecological target at little cost.... [Show full abstract]
KeywordsEBIT; mitigation; profitability; reference conditions; water quality; Environmental Sciences; Poaceae; Phosphorus; Soil; Agrochemicals; Water Pollutants, Chemical; Rivers; Water Pollution; Agriculture; New Zealand; Ecological Parameter Monitoring
Fields of Research05 Environmental Sciences; 070101 Agricultural Land Management; 0503 Soil Sciences
- Metadata-only (no full-text) 
© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.