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From "Reports on Agriculture", December 2003

Physical Soil Degradation in the Hildesheim Loess Belt and the Federal Soil Protection Act

By Matthias Gieska, Rienk R. van der Ploeg, Peter Schweigert, Hannover and Nicholas Pinter, Carbondale

Physical degradation of agricultural soils is a widespread and persistent problem, and it is a problem that is now increasingly recognized in Germany. It causes damages and external costs that are estimated at several hundred million Euros per year. If, and to what extent, Tschernosem cropland soils of the so-called Hildesheimer Börde (Hildesheim Loess Belt) are subject to physical soil degradation has been ex­amined little to date. Therefore we studied the deterioration of soil structure in the plow layer as well as soil compaction below the plow pan at a number of arable field locations in the Börde region. As a measure of soil structure, we chose the aggregate stability, and for soil compaction we chose the relative Proctor density. In order to assess the development of soil degradation over time, we compared our pre­sent measurements with those from the same sites made during the 1960s. We found that already in the 1960s, evidence of physical soil degradation could be detected in the cropland soils of the Hildesheimer Börde. This tendency, however, increased in the following decades. The relative aggregate stability of the plow layer presently amounts to only about 10 %, and the soil density below the plow pan shows values of about 95 % of the Proctor density. To protect the soil and the environment, measures against further degradation promoting reestablishing of lost functionalities of the Börde soils appear appropriate. The relative aggregate stability (qGMD) seems to be a proper criterion for imposing the new Federal Soil Protection Act. Furthermore, reduced soil cultivation, together with a restriction in the size and power of farm machinery, would be helpful. A restriction in the size and the length of single fields might also be considered. We show that such restrictions may lead to farm income losses, but because such restrictions are economically and environmentally beneficial, they could be compensated by diverting existing financial farm subsidies.

Different possibilities of alternative use of grassland growth: Combustion, Cofermentation, composting

By Martin Elsäßer, Aulendorf

Decreasing amounts of roughage consumers, due to varying agricultural structures and increasing de­mands on forage quality of milking cows, lead to unfavourable utilization of grasses from landscape man­agement. Extensive grazing could be a suitable alternative, whereas large pasture areas are not often existent in areas with high population density. Other alternatives for the use of grass growth from landscape management are potentially existent, but they are not yet fully developped and the support is determined by different attributes of the sites, which are not easy to solute. Alternatives are described in this article and an experiment for combustion is shown for the famous Federseerie nature reservation. It could be shown, that each processing method needs different conditions of raw material. Grasses are good suitable for the fermentation with liquid manure, but high efficient gas production needs intensively used grassland swards for successful fermentation processes. Combustion needs raw material with high lignin and drymatter contents and is therefore more suitable for organic materials from landscape management, but this locations should be urgently to mechanize and of lowest size.

Analyses of investment costs and labour requirements of farm biogas plants in Austria

By Christoph Walla und Walter Schneeberger, Wien

Biogas can make an important contribution to the production of electricity from renewable energy sources and to climate protection. Improvements in biogas technologies, grants and clear legal regulations have motivated farmers to invest in biogas plants. The study presented here examines the investment costs and labour requirements of existing biogas plants. Relevant data were collected using a written survey and at grant-giving bodies. A regression equation was calculated for the investment costs incurred by facilities varying in size from 10 to 330 kWel. These investment costs rise in proportion to output, while unit costs fall progressively. The proportion of costs contributed by buildings and the combined heat and power unit increase with the size of the facility, while the proportion contributed by engineering decreases. The sur­veyed labour requirements are primarily influenced by the feedstock fermented in the biogas plant.

An Efficient Conflict Resolution in Generic Marketing

By Klaus Hoff, Bingen

The activities of generic marketing in farming regularly lead to conflicts involving the stored production and the marketing stages. The conflict behaviour varies; every now and then marketing demands a higher budget on the part of farming, in other cases marketing requires a clear reduction of the budget or even not taking any measures. The cause of this changeable conflict behaviour is due to the Adjustment Costs of marketing on generic marketing.

The negotiation of a necessary compromise solution between farming and marketing corresponds with the negotiation problem of a bilateral monopoly. It is shown that a lower budget requires a total economic efficient compromise according to the criteria of NERLOVE, WAUGH (26). The total economic optimal budget can only be realized if the dominant part of the market agrees with the decisions made by the dominating part of the market, and if indirect compensation can flow. Indirect compensation is easier in a vertical product orientated organization in the agricultural production channel than in a horizontal instrument orientated organization. A Matrix Organizational Structure is being put up for discussion for the German generic marketing in consideration with the existing horizontal organized institution of generic marketing and with the expected further integration between farming and marketing.

The Traceability of Food: Challenges and Solutions from an Organizational Point of View

By Ludwig Theuvsen, Göttingen

Today traceability is viewed one of the most important aspects of food quality and safety. The article analyzes the relevance of the division of labour in food chains for the traceability of food. From an organizational point of view, traceability is traced back to a coordination and a motivational problem. Traceability as a coordination problem is determined by the number and the coordination requirements of process interdependencies in food chains. The motivational aspects of traceability result from agency relationships and agency problems in food chains (hidden characteristics, hidden action, hidden intention). Some organizational solutions for improving traceability are outlined briefly.

The innovation system of the food industry in Germany

Klaus Menrad, Karlsruhe

This article analyses the innovation system of the food industry in Germany. Due to their complex character innovation activities on the level of national economies are often analysed with the help of systems approaches. In particular the "National Innovation Systems" approach, regional and sectoral approaches as well as the concept of "Technological Systems" have been suggested for this purpose. All approaches emphasize learning of actors as well as interactions among them as crucial components of innovation systems. In Germany, research and developement activities with relevance for the food industry are carried out by numerous private and public research organisations. The financing of these activities is spread among various institutions as well. In this context the research and developement intensity of the food industry is regularly one of the lowest among the industrial sectors in Germany. Product innovations are of higher relevance for food processing companies than process innovations, often both are combined as well. Depending on the definition of "innovations" the number of products which are launched per year by the food industry differ by the power of ten, thereby a higher proportion of launched products fails in the first years after market introduction. When developing product innovations food industry companies frequently cooperate with companies of the supplier industries, but rarely with research institutions, market research institutes or users/consumers of their products. International legal regulations are increasingly gaining relevance for the food industry in Germany. There are only low nominal growth rates in the overall consumption of food products in Germany although higher growth rates are predicted for some market segment. The situation of food retailers in Germany is characterised by an aggressive price competition, a moderate expansion of floor-space, increasing concentration activities and an on-going internationalisation of companies. Finally implications and conclusions are derived for future shaping of the innovation system and behaviour of the relevant actors.

Transition and adjustments of Slovene agriculture to EU accession

By Miroslav Rednak, Tina Volk and Emil Erjavec, Ljubljana

The paper describes the changes in Slovenian agriculture and agricultural policy in the period 1993 - 2001 in light of the foreseen Slovenia's accession to the European Union. Agriculture in Slovenia is characterised by less-favourable natural and structural conditions for agricultural production, which also explains its status of a net importer of food and its relatively protectionist agricultural policy. The period of transition was also a period of a thorough restructuring of the agricultural policy. The policy was gradually brought into line with the goals and mechanisms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and even before accession Slovenia started to implement CAP-like measures, including direct payments and rural development policy measures. Slovenia is thus the only candidate country for European Union (EU) accession with the level of supports to agriculture comparable with the level of support in the European Union. In its negotiations for EU membership, Slovenia agreed on the same level of direct payments for Slovenian farmers as received by farmers in the European Union, only that in the first period, they will be largely covered from the national budget. A comprehensive rural development programme will enable Slovenia to reorient to the new CAP goals and to pursue a more target-oriented and transparent policy. As a result of the outcome of negotiations, the economic position of Slovenian farmers after accession is not expected to change markedly on the aggregate level, particularly if all the necessary steps are made with regard to the building of an efficient system for the transposition of CAP. Accession to the EU will, however, not solve the problem of relatively poor competitiveness of the agricultural sector in Slovenia, which still has to undergo comprehensive structural changes and adjustments.

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