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Modifying the yield factor based on more efficient use of fertilizer — The environmental impacts of intensive and extensive agricultural practices

Mózner, Zsófia and Tabi, Andrea and Csutora, Mária (2012) Modifying the yield factor based on more efficient use of fertilizer — The environmental impacts of intensive and extensive agricultural practices. Ecological Indicators, 16 . pp. 58-66. DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.06.034

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Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X11002056


Abstract

The aim of this article is to draw attention to calculations on the environmental effects of agriculture and to the definition of marginal agricultural yield. When calculating the environmental impacts of agricultural activities, the real environmental load generated by agriculture is not revealed properly through ecological footprint indicators, as the type of agricultural farming (thus the nature of the pollution it creates) is not incorporated in the calculation. It is commonly known that extensive farming uses relatively small amounts of labor and capital. It produces a lower yield per unit of land and thus requires more land than intensive farming practices to produce similar yields, so it has a larger crop and grazing footprint. However, intensive farms, to achieve higher yields, apply fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, etc., and cultivation and harvesting are often mechanized. In this study, the focus is on highlighting the differences in the environmental impacts of extensive and intensive farming practices through a statistical analysis of the factors determining agricultural yield. A marginal function is constructed for the relation between chemical fertilizer use and yield per unit fertilizer input. Furthermore, a proposal is presented for how calculation of the yield factor could possibly be improved. The yield factor used in the calculation of biocapacity is not the marginal yield for a given area, but is calculated from the real and actual yields, and this way biocapacity and the ecological footprint for cropland are equivalent. Calculations for cropland biocapacity do not show the area needed for sustainable production, but rather the actual land area used for agricultural production. The proposal the authors present is a modification of the yield factor and also the changed biocapacity is calculated. The results of statistical analyses reveal the need for a clarification of the methodology for calculating marginal yield, which could clearly contribute to assessing the real environmental impacts of agriculture.

Item Type:Article
Series Number / Identification Number:10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.06.034
Uncontrolled Keywords:Yield factor, Ecological footprint, Biocapacity, Intensive agriculture, Extensive agriculture, Fertilizer use
Subjects:Environmental economics
Agriculture
Projects:OTKA 68647
DOI:10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.06.034
ID Code:487
Deposited By: Zsófia Vetőné Mózner
Deposited On:17 Jan 2012 09:03
Last Modified:03 Jul 2012 00:25

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