Sustainable agricultural development in a rural area in the Netherlands? Assessing impacts of climate and socio-economic change at farm and landscape level

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Abstract

Changes in climate, technology, policy and prices affect agricultural and rural development. To evaluate whether this development is sustainable, impacts of these multiple drivers need to be assessed for multiple indicators. In a case study area in the Netherlands, a bio-economic farm model, an agent-based land-use change model, and a regional emission model have been used to simulate rural development under two plausible global change scenarios at both farm and landscape level. Results show that in this area, climate change will have mainly negative economic impacts (dairy gross margin, arable gross margin, economic efficiency, milk production) in the warmer and drier W + scenario, while impacts are slightly positive in the G scenario with moderate climate change. Dairy farmers are worse off than arable farmers in both scenarios. Conversely, when the W + scenario is embedded in the socio-economic Global Economy (GE) scenario, changes in technology, prices, and policy are projected to have a positive economic impact, more than offsetting the negative climate impacts. Important is, however, that environmental impacts (global warming, terrestrial and aquatic eutrophication) are largely negative and social impacts (farm size, number of farms, nature area, odour) are mixed. In the G scenario combined with the socio-economic Regional Communities (RC) scenario the average dairy gross margin in particular is negatively affected. Social impacts are similarly mixed as in the GE scenario, while environmental impacts are less severe. Our results suggest that integrated assessments at farm and landscape level can be used to guide decision-makers in spatial planning policies and climate change adaptation. As there will always be trade-offs between economic, social, and environmental impacts stakeholders need to interact and decide upon most important directions for policies. This implies a choice between production and income on the one hand and social and environmental services on the other hand
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-173
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume141
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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