Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Belgium)
The excess of nitrogen in the agricultural soils of Belgium is decreasing.
High nutrient balances exert pressures on the environment in terms of an increased risk of leaching of nitrates to ground- and surface waters. The gross nitrogen balance was calculated to be 126 kg N/ha in 2006, which is 48 % lower than the balance in 1990 (241 kg N/ha). In 1990 the Belgian nitrogen balance was characterised by a huge difference between the northern (Flemish Region) and the southern (Walloon Region) part of the country. The balance surplus was nearly three times higher in Flanders than in the Wallonia, mainly due to high livestock densities in the north and north-west of the Flemish Region. Between 1990 and 2006, not only the surpluses were reduced in both regions but the range became much smaller. The nitrogen balance of Flanders was decreased to 147 kg N/ha in 2006 (-61 % compared to 1990). This reduction is mainly caused by a decrease in livestock nutrient production (-15 %), inorganic fertiliser use (-43 %) and atmospheric nitrogen deposition (-25 %). In the Walloon Region the nitrogen balance was reduced to 111 kg N/ha in 2006 (-20 % compared to 2000). This is mainly due to a decrease in livestock production (-9 %), inorganic fertiliser use (-24 %) and atmospheric N-deposition (-8 %) between 1990 and 2006.
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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