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Nitrogen soil surplus to lowest level since the existence of the derogation monitoring network

07/09/2023

In the derogation monitoring network of the Minerals Policy Monitoring Programme (LMM), Wageningen Economic Research and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) annually monitor the water quality and agricultural practices of farms 'registered for derogation'. The derogation monitoring network is a result of the derogation from the Nitrate Directive that the Netherlands has had since 2006. With this derogation, farms with at least 80% grass in the cropping plan may, under certain conditions, use more nitrogen from grazing livestock manure than the 170 kg nitrogen per hectare that the European Nitrate Directive prescribes as a maximum. From 2023, the derogation will be phased out step by step and will disappear as of 2026.

On June 30, 2023, the report 'Agricultural practice and water quality on agricultural companies registered for derogation in 2021' was presented to the House of Representatives by (meanwhile outgoing) Minister Adema of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, making the results public. The results show that the average nitrogen fertilisation from animal manure on farms in the derogation monitoring network shows a declining trend in the period 2006 to 2021. In 2021, nitrogen fertilisation from animal manure was 229 kg/ha. The nitrogen soil surplus on farms in the derogation monitoring network also shows a declining trend and amounted to an average of 144 kg/ha in 2021. Not since the existence of the derogation monitoring network, which started in 2006, has this surplus been so low. The phosphate soil surplus also shows a declining trend and averaged -4 kg/ha in 2021. This means that a net amount of phosphate was extracted from the soil.

At the Agrimatie website, these new results of the agricultural practice of companies in the derogation monitoring network have been processed in the following 7 articles:

1. Milk production (per farm, per hectare forage crop and per cow)
2. Nitrogen fertilisation
3. Phosphate fertilisation
4. Crop yields (for both grassland and silage maize)
5. Nitrogen operating surplus
6. Nitrogen soil surplus
7. Phosphate soil surplus

Composition and regions
The derogation monitoring network consists of 300 farms; approximately 87% of the farms in the network are dairy farms and approximately 13% are 'other grassland farms'. The results are presented for the group of farms as a whole, but also per region. Five regions are distinguished: Sand-230, Sand-250, Clay, Peat and Loess. Legislation in 2021 stipulates that a maximum of 230 kg nitrogen from grazing livestock manure per hectare may be used on sandy and loess soil in the provinces of Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant and Limburg. On other soil types and on soil located outside these 5 provinces, a maximum of 250 kg nitrogen per hectare may be used in 2021. Within LMM, the Sand region contains 230 companies located in the Sand region in the aforementioned five provinces. The Sand-250 region concerns the farms in the rest of the Sand region, where up to a maximum of 250 kg nitrogen per hectare from grazing livestock manure may also be used on sand in 2021.

The establishment
Results from the derogation monitoring network on agricultural practice are available for the period 2006 to 2021. The data for 2021 were obtained in the year 2022 by collecting all farm economic and (environmental) technical data for the year 2021. This was ready by September 2022. Subsequently, all data per farm were processed, checked and approved for research. Based on the approved data, the indicators were calculated, analyses performed and the results described in the first half of 2023.

Additional information for this item

Phosphate use per ha
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Nitrogen farm surplus per ha
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Nitrogen use per ha
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Phosphate soil surplus per ha
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Nitrogen soil surplus per ha
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Marga Hoogeveen
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