Assessing Policies to Improve Water Quality in Agricultural Landscapes
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Prince Edward Island (PEI) has a unique ecological and economic dependence on water quality, which is affected directly by the agricultural systems used. PEI residents rely solely on groundwater as its source of drinking water, and groundwater contributes approximately 70% to surface waters such as streams, rivers, and estuaries. The reliance on the quality of groundwater in PEI by ecosystems and residents coexists within an intensive agricultural sector that is economically important to the province. Potatoes are grown on over 40% of the 1.4 million acre land base and the crop generates over 75% of the total cash receipts from this cropland. The heavy reliance of nitrogen for this high-value crop grown on the sandy soils of PEI has resulted in significant groundwater nitrate contamination. While the problem of excess nitrates and water quality has attracted the attention of hydrogeologists and agronomists to research the impact of agricultural land management practices on nitrate leachate using hydrologic modelling techniques, little economic analyses on the BMPs to alleviate the problem have been conducted.
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