The context within which agricultural production takes place differs between countries and must be taken into account in the modelling and evaluation of environmental impacts. The availability and quality of the data also varies between countries. All in all, this makes a comparison between countries a complex task. For this reason, the study aimed to make comparisons as ‘fair’ as possible within the parameters of the study remit. A balance was sought between the use of a consistent methodology and the use of the best possible data. This meant, for example, that for the Dutch situation we used less specific data than were available in favour of prioritising the use of a consistent modelling method and data for comparisons with other countries.
The following agricultural sectors were included: cow’s milk, fattening pigs, broilers, ware potatoes, wheat and tomatoes. Dutch production was compared with production in several other important European countries (Germany, France, Poland, Spain, Romania and Italy). The table below gives the various product-country combinations studied. The environmental factors investigated were land use, greenhouse gas emissions, N and P surpluses, ammonia emissions and production value.
The study made use of the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology, which identifies the emissions during all stages of production.