A new framework of measuring national nutrients balance for international and global comparison
Nutrients balance such as nitrogen and phosphorus balance are increasingly used as an indicator of the environmental performance of agricultural sector in international and global context. However there still is a lack of harmony in the use of methods for estimating the nutrients balance among countries. This is because of the disagreement regarding the accuracy and uncertainty of different accounting methods. The lack of harmony in the methods used in different countries further increases the uncertainty in the context of the international comparisons. This paper provides a new framework for nutrients balance calculation using the farm-gate accounting method. The calculation under this new framework takes advantage of availability of data from FAO and other reliable national and international sources. Due to this, the proposed framework is highly adaptable in many countries, making the global comparison feasible. The paper also proposes three criteria including adaptability, accuracy and interpretability to assess the appropriateness of nutrients accounting method. Based on these criteria, the paper provides a comprehensive comparison of the farm-gate and soil-surface methods in accounting country-level nutrients balance of agricultural production. The paper identifies some shortcomings of the soil-surface balance and shows that the farm-gate method has a greater potential of providing a more accurate and meaningful estimation of national nutrients balance.
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