Is straw return-to-field always beneficial? Evidence from an integrated cost-benefit analysis
Publication date: Available online 8 January 2019
Author(s): Beibei Liu, Qiaoran Wu, Feng Wang, Bing Zhang
Straw return-to-field is regarded as a very effective option to avoid straw burning during harvest seasons and has been widely implemented in China. However, whether straw return-to-field is good for croplands as well as existing straw utilization facilities is not a simple yes or no question. Taking Jiangsu Province as an example, this study constructs a cost-benefit analysis framework, within which six scenarios with different return-to-field ratios are carefully designed, and the net benefits of the croplands as well as the existing straw power plants are calculated and compared, considering both environmental and economic aspects. The results show that as the straw return-to-field ratio increases, the profit of straw power plants continues to decline, while the net benefit of the straw return-to-field in the croplands increases initially and then decreases, resulting in an initial increase followed by a decrease in the net benefit of the whole region. Based on the results, the optimal straw return-to-field ratio is recommended as approximately 60%, which is much lower than the current ratio (98%) in the case of Jiangsu Province. Therefore, integrated impacts on both croplands and related industries should be carefully considered when designing and implementing straw return-to-field and other agricultural policies.
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