Is the nitrogen surplus from agriculture in Europe being reduced?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: SEBI 019

Key messages

(03 Dec 2018)

At the EU level, there has been a decrease in the agricultural nitrogen balance between 2000 and 2015, which is an indication of an improving trend. The main decrease was between 2000 and 2010; between 2010 and 2015 there was no further significant decrease.

A country comparison of the average agricultural nitrogen balance for the years 2000-2003 and 2012-2015, shows that for the majority of European countries there was a reduction in the nitrogen balance, reflecting an improving trend.

Although the agricultural nitrogen balance is decreasing in most Member States, it is still considered to be unacceptably high in some parts of Europe because of associated impacts on the environment. This is particularly true in western Europe and in some Mediterranean countries. Even in countries with low national averages, there can be regions with high nitrogen loadings because of agricultural intensity, such as livestock density. Further efforts are therefore needed to reduce the balance.

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