Action-based payments that compensate farmers for adopting land-management measures to preserve and enhance the environment have been criticized for being ineffective. The root of the problem is that farmers are not paid for achieving a desired environmental benefit, but compensated for their costs of management. There is growing interest in formulating result-based economic incentives. By paying for an environmental benefit and allowing flexibility in how to achieve it, farmers are given an incentive to exploit their comparative advantages for achieving a desired environmental benefit cost-effectively. However, the feasibility and relative effectiveness of result-based payments for reducing agricultural pollution is contentious.
In this study, we designed and evaluated a result-based payment scheme for nonpoint-source pollution abatement from arable land. In a case study in southern Sweden, the cost-effectiveness of the new scheme was compared with that of an existing action-based scheme for vegetated buffer strips to prevent the pollutant, particulate phosphorus, from reaching water resources. The results suggest that result-based payment schemes based on modeled outcomes of pollution abatement are feasible and will considerably improve cost-effectiveness compared to action-based schemes, by relocating buffer strips to where they are more effective and not simply where they have the lowest costs for farmers.
Link to article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026483771731308X