Exchange diesel tax for nitrogen tax – it only gets worse.

Daily papers as well as agricultural press is full of arguments. The agriculture is hit by fuel taxes. At least “centerpartiet” seems to advocate scrapping the nitrogen tax as compensation. But – according to farmers organizations the fuel tax means SEK 1 billion for agriculture while the nitrogen tax is about 300 millions.

And there is another calculation to perform. Nitrogen is also an actor in the climate drama. If the tax i abolished the fertilizer use will increase and so the dinitrogen oxide emissions. Let us talk about GreenHouse Gas equivalents, GHG.

 

Consider cereal production. Removing the N tax means that the economic rate is increased by about 10 kg N per hectare. The yield increases by about 100 kg, According to guidelines from the climate panel IPCC we get increased emissions of dinitrogen oxide by about 90 GHG in the whole chain, provided nitrogen fertilizer from the best factories is used. For an average fertilizer it would be 130. To compensate the 90 we need to save 30 l diesel, almost half the present use. Not easy.

Exchanging nitrogen tax for diesel tax means an increase in climate gas emissions.

 

If nitrogen is that sensitive maybe we should change to organic production without fertilizers? For crop production that is no solution. The considerably lower yields and the N input from legumes means that organic production is not better concerning climate. A concrete figure from the 3rd rotation of the agricultural systems experiments in south Sweden:  per kg cereal the GHG emission is 0.27 for conventional production (according to the Swedish model with N tax etc) and 0.37 for organic.

 

If the N tax is removed the N leaching will increase by 2000-5000 tons. It is the N “at the top” which counts.

There must be better ways to compensate the Swedish agriculture.

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