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Nitrogen use per ha - Derogation farms

Decrease in nitrogen application in 2021

The average nitrogen application from livestock manure shows a downward trend over the period 2006 to 2021. In 2006, 242 kg of nitrogen from livestock manure was used per hectare. In 2021, this had dropped to 229 kg per hectare. A downward trend is also visible in nitrogen fertiliser consumption. At 122 kg per hectare in 2021, the use of inorganic nitrogen-containing fertilisers is almost at the lowest level in the entire period from 2006 to 2021.

65% nitrogen application from livestock manure
The nitrogen application from livestock manure in 2021 of 229 kg per hectare on average is relatively low compared to previous years. Only in 2012 and 2019, comparable low amounts were realised with respectively 228 and 227 kg per hectare on average. Over the whole period from 2006 until 2021, a decreasing trend is visible in the nitrogen application from livestock manure. The use of inorganic nitrogen-containing fertilisers in 2021 is also at the lowest level with 122 kg per hectare. After 2018, the use of inorganic nitrogen-containing fertilisers rose again for 2 years in a row to 131 kg/ha in 2020 and decreased in 2021 again to 122 kg/ha. The total nitrogen application per hectare in 2021 consisted on average of almost 65% livestock manure, and nearly 35% from the use of inorganic nitrogen-containing fertilisers.

The Clay region is the region where the share of nitrogen from livestock manure in total nitrogen application was the lowest in all years. This was partly due to the higher total application level in the Clay region (2021: 379 kg nitrogen per hectare compared to 353 kg/ha at all farms in the derogation monitoring network), while the application of livestock manure was limited by the livestock manure application standard. Total nitrogen application in 2021 was lowest in the Loess region with 330 kg/ha, followed by Sand-230 region and Sand-250 region with 333 and 334 kg/ha respectively and the Peat region with 356 kg/ha. Total nitrogen application was highest in the Clay region with 379 kg/ha.

Less application that allowed by the nitrogen application capacity
The difference between nitrogen application and the nitrogen application standard decreased sharply, especially in the years 2006 to 2009. In 2006 this difference was still 68 kg/ha, in the period 2009 to 2017 this varied from 20 to 30 kg/ha. The decrease in the difference is on the one hand due to a decrease in the nitrogen utilisation capacity in the period 2006-2013 from 293 to 263 kg/ha. This is the result of higher legal efficiency coefficients for manure on dairy farms with grazing and partly due to the tightening of nitrogen application standards over time. After 2013, the nitrogen utilisation capacity increased again to around 280 kg/ha. One reason for this is a higher share of grassland from 2014 onwards as a result of an adjustment of the derogation conditions (from a minimum of 70 to a minimum of 80% grass in the cropping plan). Grassland has a higher nitrogen utilisation standard than other crops. On the other hand, the decreasing difference between the nitrogen utilisation capacity and the nitrogen application is the result of an increase in the total use of active nitrogen in the period 2006-2017 to 261 kg/ha. Since 2018, the difference between nitrogen application capacity and the nitrogen application have increased again. In 2021, this difference equals 44 kg/ha. A lower nitrogen production from livestock manure, which is not compensated by more nitrogen added via livestock manure, is one of the main reasons for the increased fall short of the nitrogen application standard in 2021. Another reason is the, in comparison to other years, low use of inorganic nitrogen-containing fertilisers of 122 kg/ha.

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Marga Hoogeveen

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