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.




Increasing attention is now given, nationally and internationally, to the importance of understanding and managing other global cycles of elements in addition to carbon, including nitrogen. Work on planetary boundaries has identified overloading the nitrogen cycle as one of the most critical problems. A particular challenge is that reactive nitrogen (Nr) is involved in a cascade of different environmental effects, from local air pollution to eutrophication, acidification and climate change. These problems are often managed by different and not always coordinated policies and instruments. Recent studies and projects, such as the European Nitrogen Assessment, and newly initiated projects by the OECD, have looked at how more coherent and integrated policies could be better targeted and more cost-effective. The Convention on Long- Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) has established a Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen (TFRN) to look scientifically at the whole cycle of reactive nitrogen, as a background for policy development.


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