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Prof. Karin Holm-Müller

University Bonn, Germany

“Nitrogen emissions from agriculture - Solutions for a pressing environmental problem (from the SRU Special Report)“


© Prof. Karin Holm-MüllerProf. Karin Holm-Müller
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Numerous environmental reduction targets exist on the national and European level concerning the input of reactive nitrogen to the environment. However, existing targets are widely missed. This is why, in 2015, the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) published a special report on drivers and solutions for the environmental pressure caused by nitrogen emissions.

Besides transportation and power plants agricultural production is a main pollution source. It causes the major share of nitrate emissions to waterbodies and ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions into the air. This poses a threat to the quality of ground- and surface water bodies as well as terrestrial biodiversity.

The SRU sees the Fertilizer Ordinance, which mainly implements the EU Nitrates Directive in Germany, as the core command and control measure to limit nitrogen emissions from agriculture. The Fertilizer legislation has been recently revised and contains numerous measures which the SRU has also suggested. Besides various sector specific recommendations, the SRU proposes to develop a national nitrogen strategy. Such a strategy would offer important starting points to solve existing political and institutional problems, including setting a policy agenda, creating a platform for social and political debates, providing an overarching framework for political action programmes, and formulating widely supported policy goals. This recommendation was taken up by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, which started the development of such a strategy.