Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
on this subject. I'm going to accept your data at face-value for now.

I do have one doubt, however. Some folks show data that indicates that too much fertilizer is used currently. Rising - perhaps dangerous - levels of nitrates in river systems (e.g., the Mississippi River) are well beyond that which can be blamed on (under-regulated) livestock manure concentrations in the river system's upstream watershed. Implication is that fertilizer on grain-growing land is dispensed too liberally.

This behavior would certainly fit the bottom-line model of the large-scale farms for which the question would simply be is the cost of the fertilizer for the number of units used less than the market price of the product given maximized grain yield.

In other words your interest in this subject - and your model(s) - seem to start from the ecological perspective. Is potential over-use of ammonia-based products a part of your analysis?

paul spencer

by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 23rd, 2008 at 09:54:53 PM EST
And on that point, are the current use-patterns for ammonia-based fertilizers driven by sound agronomic research, or by an artificial set of incentives from the government and the big ag corps?

It does seem like something to address.  The more niggling points like this that you can deal with, the better you can play up the doom cards.

by Zwackus on Wed Dec 24th, 2008 at 07:10:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... sound agronomic research on the most effective cultivation techniques in the context of a system where fertilizer gets a free ride on its external costs downstream in the watershed would not be arriving at the "correct figure" if it is not recommending too much fertilizer use from the perspective of full economic costs.

That is, after all, a direct consequence of taking free rides on external costs and giving free rides on external benefits ... making it rational at the individual level to over-utilize the thing with the net external cost, and to under-utilize the thing with the net external benefit.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Dec 24th, 2008 at 05:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 Curing overuse is a fine thing and high fertilizer prices drive that. Instead of broadcast application GPS monitoring of both application and yield can be done. Doing it right involves a guy on an ATV with a GPS and some kit doing a field survey first.

 The livestock stuff is a problem but keep in mind human waste is simply dumped in a lot of those municipalities. Spencer, Iowa, population about 9,000 has a direct discharge sewer system. That all reaches the Mississippi along with every other little town in the Midwest that does that ...

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Wed Dec 24th, 2008 at 12:21:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
trying to blame Spencer for the nitrate excess. :>

paul spencer
by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Wed Dec 24th, 2008 at 04:28:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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