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CAPRI-Dynaspat Project:
Task 3: Improved environmental indicators
and link to a Geographical Information system for landscape assessment

1. Development of an indicator on energy use in agriculture

    The important changes in the CAP ahead, as already implicated by the Commission Projects under the Medium Term Review, will trigger sizeable effects on the agricultural production program. Currently, CAPRI includes environmental pressure indicators on water quality presented by balances for P,K and a N mass flow model. The latter allows to estimate Ammonia emission as well, a first indicator for air quality. Last but not least water balances and greenhouse gas emission are already linked to the CAPRI modelling system. Exhaustion of non-renewable energy sources and the related output of gases causing global warming is a major issue with regard to sustainability of the global system. It is hence proposed to complement the environmental indicators in CAPRI by a module on energy use in agriculture. That module will especially allow to quantify in a detailed manner indirect emissions of greenhouse gases caused by energy use in agriculture.

    The Federal Research Station for Agricultural Engineering (FAT) in Tänikon, Switzerland, has sampled very detailed, process related data for the use of energy in agriculture. The team at the FAT already conducted a feasibility study for an indicator on energy use in agriculture for Switzerland in the context of the first CAPRI framework project (Jürg Fischer (1999): nergy Inputs in Swiss Agriculture. CAPRI Working Paper 99-01). Two main steps are now planned in order to upgrade the feasibility study into an operational CAPRI module:

    • Firstly, the data set linked to energy module covers Switzerland, only. An application to CAPRI makes it necessary to collect data for the European Union as a whole. In order do so, typical production and housing systems for production activities in the EU will be defined and attributed to the production activities in the NUTS II regions.

    • Secondly, literature analysis will determine the necessary parameters for each of these production and housing systems (tractor hours, energy need for heating, light and cleaning etc.). That step includes an update of the existing parameters set relating to Swiss production systems. The data update has to cover latest developments as for example precision farming to allow a forecast of production systems on a ten year horizon.

    2. Development of a GIS link for CAPRI (soil, climatic and land use map),
    link and development of a landscape assessment indicator
    and to a process based model for Green House Gas emissions from agriculture

    The effect of agricultural activities on the environment is largely modulated by regional differences in soil type, land cover and climate, both in terms of environmental pressure (e.g. the rate of nitrogen transformed into nitrous oxide or transported to the groundwater as nitrate), and in terms of environmental impact (i.e. susceptibility of water bodies to eutrophication or distance-to nitrogen saturation of forest ecosystems). Thus, the interpretative strength of an impact analysis of agricultural policies and the aspects that can be addressed considerably increase by adding a spatial component to the model results. The impact of agriculture on the landscape is best assessed on the basis of landscape-relevant geographical units such as catchment areas.

    At the JRC, access to a wide range of geo-referenced information for Europe is available together with a long experience in the use of this information for an equally wide range of applications, including the generation of specific land use maps, the development of indicators, and the link to soil process models.

    Within CAPRI-DynaSpat, the JRC will combine the expertise of three units of the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (i.e., the Climate Change Unit, IES-CCU, the Land Management Unit, IES-LMU, and the Soil and Waste Unit, IES-SWU) to most effectively contribute to an improvement of the interpretative strength of the impact of agriculture and agricultural policy. In particular, the JRC will contribute with three tasks, related to the main focus of the three units involved, which will also take the lead for the corresponding work packages.

    • to perform a comprehensive literature research on the relationships between administrative regions and spatial data, to develop algorithms to distribute CAPRI parameters over smaller landscape units, and to link the resulting module to the CAPRI system (IES-CCU, WP8).

    • to provide a review of literature research on landscape assessment indicators, to link the spatially disaggregated model to structural landscape parameters, and to develop a comprehensive landscape indicator (IES-LMU, WP9).

    • to develop a series of harmonized and geo-referenced databases relevant for describing the major drivers for pollutant transformation in, and emission from, soils, to adapt an existing process-based model that estimates nitrogen fluxes (GHG emissions and leaching to ground waters) and to implement the model within CAPRI/GIS (IES-SWU, WP10).

Last updated: Thursday, September 04, 2014