Saturday, 15 July 2006

Regional Nutrient Quota System for Reducing Nutrient Input in South Korea.

Youn Lee and Hongbae Yun. National Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology, RDA, Seodun-dong, 249, Kweonseon-gu, Suwon, 441-707, South Korea

South Korea has 48 millions of population, and has 1.26 million farm households with average 1.46 ha of agricultural land (2003). High population density in small agricultural land area had been created food shortage problems very often in Korean history. Economic development since 1970s changed many socio-economic and cultural aspects of Korea. Changes in food pattern is one of them, Meat and dairy food consumption per capita has been increased 6 times for meat, 14 times for dairy products from 1970 to 2002. Also, people prefer fresh vegetables in winter season. Consequently, livestock industry has been increased by using imported concentrate feeds, and created manure problems. Vegetable production in greenhouse required significant amounts of nutrient, and farmers prefer animal manure composts for the fertilization in greenhouse. In 2002, soil surface nutrient balance in Korea showed 238 kg N ha-1 yr-1 and 47 kg P ha-1 yr-1 respectively. National monitoring data showed that phosphate accumulated area in agricultural lands has been expanding drastically since 1970s, and more than 50% of surveyed agricultural land area were exceeded recommended level in year 1999-2001 survey. There are common agreements to reduce nutrient inputs among government organizations. But, many barriers for nutrient management are existed, such as farmer' age (avg. 58), low education level, small farmland (1.46ha), huge number of farm households (1.26 million). Among many different policy measures to reduce nutrient inputs, regional nutrient quota system will be one of options in Korea. Korea has 167 counties and cities (2005). Those regional units produce own statistic data concerning agricultural production as well as livestock numbers. Most of crops have own fertilizer recommendation level, though many farmers use fertilizer by their own conventional methods. Most crops, except rice, tend to be fertilized more than recommended level. Most livestock farmers in Korea don't have land for applying animal manure. It is composted and transferred to nearby upland and greenhouse vegetable growers. Required nutrients in certain region can be calculated using cropping area multiplied by recommended nutrient for each crops. Nutrient surplus could be identified comparing these required nutrients with the sum of chemical fertilizer use and animal manure nutrients produced in the region. Calculations were based on 2002 statistics, and nutrient transfer factors among regions were not counted. Average recommended nitrogen inputs were 182 kg N ha-1yr-1 for paddy, and 253 kg N ha-1yr-1 for upland crops. Among calculated 165 regions, 43 regions showed higher than 1.5 times N surplus. In case of phosphate, 70 regions showed higher than 1.5 times surplus. Relationship between livestock density (1 unit=livestock manure N 100 kg ha-1) and nutrient (P) surplus in regions showed significant positive correlation (r2=0.82). It showed that animal manure is important contributor for nutrient surplus in regions, and need to be managed well by either increasing animal nutrient efficiency, transferring manure to other regions or reducing livestock numbers. If regional nutrient quota system were established, the Ministry of agriculture (MAF) or Ministry of environment (ME) can identify regional nutrient surplus easily, and implement different policies depending on surplus level. One of policy measures is to discriminate subsidy levels on regions depending on surplus level, since local government were subsidized by central government in many ways. Also, new registration for livestock production in nutrient surplus area could be affected. Besides such restrictions, regional nutrient quota system will provide information on nutrient to establish regional nutrient management plan for local governments. Ideal nutrient quota could be a zero surplus (required = available in the region), but compromise is necessary among ministries, local governments and other stakeholder groups such as farmer's associations to finalize regional nutrient quota.

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