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Agro-environmental economics and agronomy


Anno accademico 2009/2010

Codice dell'attività didattica
Alessandro CORSI (Affidamento)
Francesco VIDOTTO (Affidamento)
Corso di studi
[f001-c210/1.1] laurea spec. in a.e. curr. a.g.t. - orient. sustainable farming systems
1° anno
B - Caratterizzante B - Caratterizzante
SSD dell'attività didattica
AGR/01 - economia ed estimo rurale

Sommario insegnamento


Obiettivi formativi

To provide students with an economic approach to environmental issues in agriculture.
To analyze the main interconnections between agricultural production systems and the environment.


Risultati dell'apprendimento attesi

Giving to students the analytical tools to interpret agri-environmental issues in an economic perspective; discussing in this framework agricultural and agri-environmental policies of the EU.
To give an understanding of the agronomic techniques that can be applied profitably to mitigate the potential adverse effects on the environment. To give an overview of the agronomical shifts requested to meet the objectives of the agro-environmental policies.



Agro-environmental economics Revision of basic economics Market as an efficient resource allocation mechanism. Pareto optimum. Efficiency and equity. Kaldor-Hicks compensation principle. Market failures: public goods, externalities, open access resources; Externalities. Externalities as a reason for not reaching a social optimum. Optimal level of externalities. Policy interventions on externalities: market, standards, taxes, subsidies, marketable permits. Public goods. The economic measurement of benefits from public goods. Valuation methods of the benefits of public goods. Agriculture and environment. Positive and negative externalities associated to agricultural production. Structural and technical evolution of agriculture and its impact on environment. Sustainable agriculture and multifunctional agriculture. The Common Agricultural Policy and the environment. Agro-environmental measures and the greening of the CAP. Agro-environmental agronomy Environmental effects of agriculture; the DPSIR scheme for the interpretation of the environmental impact The water compartment and legislative framework (European Water Framework Directive – WFD – 2000/60/EC; vulnerability indices to nitrates and pesticides; national and local policies) Balance of fertilizers (in detail of nitrogen) in agricultural production systems at different scales; impacts of wrong agronomic practices; the strategy to reduce nitrogen release to surface and groundwater Impact of use of pesticides (in detail herbicides); point and diffuse pollution-sources; environmental fate of herbicides; agronomical practices for mitigation of contamination of water and other compartments Examples of agricultural systems and their environmental impacts (main agricultural systems adopted in Italy; comparison between conventional and organic farming; basics of crop rotation; intercropping; cover crops; catch crops, .....)

Testi consigliati e bibliografia


A general textbook on Environmental economics, not too technical:
-Pearce D.W, Turner K.R., Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1990

More specific on agriculture:
-Zilberman D., Marra M., Agricultural Externalities, in G.A. Carlson, D. Zilberman and J.A. Miranowski (eds) Agricultural and Environmental Resource Economics, New York, Oxford University Press, 1993

On the concept of multifunctionality, an useful reference for a discussion on its economic backgroundis:
-OCDE, Multifunctionality: Towards An Analytical Framework, OCDE, Paris, 2001
(a full version of 157 pages and a short version of 26 pages are both available at ).

A general handbook on environmental impact of plan protection products (PPPs):
-Matthews GA (2006). Pesticides: health, safety, and the environment. 235 pp Oxford, UK., Blackwell Publishing.

The most important EU directive in the water field:
-The EU Water Framework Directive - integrated river basin management for Europe - Directive 2000/60/EC of the European parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy. Available at



Examination: Oral.
The oral exam will also include a presentation and discussion of a scientific/technical paper, selected among those collected by students during the course.

Moduli didattici

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