Nordic nitrogen and agriculture

Policy, measures and recommendations to reduce environmental impact

image of Nordic nitrogen and agriculture

The Nordic countries have, during the last 20 years, introduced efficient measures to reduce nitrogen losses to the environment. Still, nitrogen losses from the agricultural sector are high. In this report we provide recommendations on strategies and policy instruments to achieve cost effective abatement of reactive nitrogen from agriculture in the Nordic countries.This report is based on a literature review. Additional input was also obtained from discussions at a workshop held in Gothenburg in January 2017. The workshop made it possible for experts from the four Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to come together and discuss and compare policies and mitigation measures regarding nitrogen and agriculture. During the workshop we identified a number of policy challenges, policy actions and also knowledge gaps where further research is needed.




The growth of plants is not possible without readily available reactive nitrogen (Nr1), and livestock and humans are dependent on N protein supplies through diet. The availability of Nr for food production has increased significantly over the last century, and the impacts of nitrogen compounds on the environment have increased correspondingly. Agriculture is thus a major contributor to nitrogen emissions. Other sources of Nr exist as well, in particular related to energy production and transport. Considering the cost of producing Nr and the negative effects when emitted/lost to sensitive ecosystems, there are obvious benefits in managing Nr fluxes. There are many regulations in place to reduce the impacts of Nr, but still, fluxes are large compared with natural background levels, and the management of nitrogen needs to be improved in the future.


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