Motu Note #15

Nutrient Trading Game

Motu has developed a game where participants take part in a simplified nutrient trading system. The game was developed to give participants ‘hands on’ experience of trading. Participants manage either a dairy farm or a sheep/beef farm. Each farmer decides how much to produce each year. When they increase production they increase their nutrient loss. During the game, regulations to control nutrient loss will be introduced. Students will have to respond by altering their production.

We welcome questions, and would also be happy to hear about your experiences playing the game on 

Game materials

The  game consists of two files. The Nutrient-game-handouts-for-players.pdf  includes one sheet for dairy farmers and one sheet for sheep/beef farmers. Each should keep their sheet confidential. Instructors will need one copy of the Nutrient-game-teacher's-notes.pdf . The presentation is optional, but may be useful to guide discussion.

We suggest using these materials across two sessions:

Session 1

  • Nutrient-trading-game-presentation.ppt  on the nutrient trading game (2 minutes).
  • Trading game. This takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, including and depending upon discussion time. The extension (a demonstration of the impact of allocation) will take additional time, and could be carried over to session 2. 

Session 2

Emissions trading game

A trading game for emissions trading is also available. It is identical to the version described here, except that it refers to greenhouse gases in place of nutrients. Use the following files if you would like to play the emissions trading version:

Other Resources

Motu has also been involved in the development of a computer-based platform for educational water trading games. An overview of the simulation platform is available.