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Baltic Breakfast: Actions in agriculture to improve nutrient use efficiency – the Danish case

The possibilities to improve nutrient use efficiency in the Baltic Sea region is the topic of upcoming Baltic Breakfast is about. Benoit Dessirier, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre, will present new modelling results regarding magnitude and dynamics of nutrient legacies in agricultural landscapes in the Baltic region and how they contribute to river loads to the sea. Gitte Blicher-Mathisen, Aarhus University, will describe the actions taken in Denmark to reduce nutrient leakage. 

Adding nitrogen and phosphorous to agriculture arable land is a necessity to get a good crop. But excess nutrient use creates well known problems – leakage of nutrients to surrounding waters causing eutrophication. The fact that nutrients are not used efficiently in agriculture is also old news but to what extent and whether or not actions has an effect, are always relevant for the ongoing agriculture debate. 

Presently the policy discussions on agriculture are more intense than for a long time. The Ukrainian war inflicts on prices of mineral fertilisers and other inputs leading to even tougher financial situations for farming. EU Member states as well as large parts of the agriculture community, are asking for abandonment of the EU Green Deal’s Farm to Fork strategy’s goal of reducing mineral fertiliser use. At the same time, the global sustainable development goals and other environmental objectives are far from reached and the negative effects of eutrophic waters are obvious. 

Improved nutrient use efficiency would be good both for eutrophication and for reducing the farming sector’s dependence on inputs such as mineral fertilisers. So, what can research tell us about nutrient use efficiency? What is the situation around the Baltic Sea? Do actions have an effect? Let’s look at what Denmark implemented before 2016 and if it had an effect.



Benoit Dessirier, Researcher, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre 
Gitte Blicher-Mathiesen, Senior Advisor, Dep of EcoScience, Aarhus University