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The gross and net distributable surplus of nitrogen in agriculture decreased in the period 1992–2015. Trend analysis for this period shows that gross distributable surplus nitrogen decreased by 46% and net surplus by 78%. Smaller surpluses indicate better management of nitrogen and, consequently, reduced emissions of nitrogen compounds in the environment. On average, 52% of nitrogen input was taken up by crops in the period 1992–2003. This proportion increased to 66% in the period 2004–2015 and even exceeded 70% in individual years. In the period 2005-2014, Slovenia recorded the same average gross distributable surplus nitrogen as the other EU Member States (53 kg N/ha).


According to OECD-EUROSTAT methodology (2013), the balance (surplus) of nitrogen (N) in agriculture is defined as the difference between nitrogen inputs to and outputs from agricultural land through crops. We distinguish between gross and net balance. Gross balance is the difference between total input and output of nitrogen. Total (gross) input of nitrogen is represented by the following sources: total nitrogen excreted by farm animals, nitrogen in mineral fertilisers, biological fixation of nitrogen by legumes, deposition of atmospheric nitrogen, nitrogen from other organic fertilisers (compost, sludge from wastewater treatment plants, etc.). Net balance usually refers to nitrogen required for the growth of crops (net input). Net input is calculated by subtracting nitrogen that is released into the atmosphere (from animal sheds, manure storage tanks, during grazing, during and as a result of fertilising with mineral, animal and other organic fertilisers, during the decomposition of crop residues in soil and as a result of cultivation of histosols) from the total (gross) input. This is nitrogen that is released into the atmosphere through emissions of ammonia (NH3) nitrous oxide N2O) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Gross nitrogen surplus represents a threat to the environment, as nitrogen may be released into the water or end up in the atmosphere in various forms of reactive nitrogen. In particular, gross nitrogen surplus represents a threat to waters. It should be pointed out that another potential threat stems from the fact that neither nitrogen in its molecular form (N2) nor the potential build-up of nitrogen reserves in soil are taken into account in the assessment of nitrogen balance surplus.

Gross and net nitrogen balance is expressed in tonnes of nitrogen at the national level and in kilograms of nitrogen per hectare of utilised agricultural land. The data for the period 1992–2015 is presented. The indicator also shows inputs and outputs of nitrogen and presents a comparison with the EU-28 countries.


Charts

Figure KM22-1: Structure of the input of nitrogen on agricultural land in Slovenia in the period 1992-2015
Sources: 

Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, 2016

Show data
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Total N input t N 89555.9 81361.4 81420.2 80536 78472.3 80476.5 81676.6 81955 84206.6 83897.9
Livestock manure t N 40082.1 37513 37359 38244 37455.5 37067.8 37611.8 38338.9 40683.7 39916.5
Mineral fertilisers t N 38938 33376 33944 32235 31296 33999 34801 34380 34159 34765
Atmospheric deposition t N 8338.1 8291.4 8063.8 7874.5 7702.1 7414.1 7363.8 7478.9 7634.4 7644.4
Biological fixation t N 1781.2 1763.6 1653.3 1778.1 1637.4 1638.4 1546.7 1432.5 1409.2 1241.8
Seeds and seedlings t N 338.5 339.4 322.2 326.4 311.2 294.9 298.8 291.5 308.5 310.8
Other organic fertilisers t N 78 78 78 78 70.2 62.4 54.6 33.2 11.7 19.5
Livestock manure % 44.8 46.1 45.9 47.5 47.7 46.1 46 46.8 48.3 47.6
Mineral fertilisers % 43.5 41 41.7 40 39.9 42.2 42.6 41.9 40.6 41.4
Atmospheric deposition % 9.3 10.2 9.9 9.8 9.8 9.2 9 9.1 9.1 9.1
Biological fixation % 2 2.2 2 2.2 2.1 2 1.9 1.7 1.7 1.5
Seeds and seedlings % 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Other organic fertilisers % 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0 0 0
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Total N input t N 84660.9 83029.5 76666.1 76818.9 78074.5 78909.4 72771.9 75746 74480.4 72382.1
Livestock manure t N 42047.7 39228.8 37363.3 38024.2 38274.1 39779.9 38121.2 38090.9 37366.1 36049.1
Mineral fertilisers t N 33412 34501 30264 29169 30383 29613 25039 28202 27486 27134
Atmospheric deposition t N 7581.9 7645.6 7357.8 7631.4 7354.8 7477 7386.4 7027.4 7239.8 6872.9
Biological fixation t N 1283 1339.3 1381.8 1700.8 1755 1733.8 1918.6 2123.1 2085.2 2056.1
Seeds and seedlings t N 293.5 297 294.2 290.7 306.5 304.9 306.4 302.2 285.5 269.9
Other organic fertilisers t N 42.9 17.7 4.9 2.8 1.1 0.7 0.4 0.4 17.7 0
Livestock manure % 49.7 47.2 48.7 49.5 49 50.4 52.4 50.3 50.2 49.8
Mineral fertilisers % 39.5 41.6 39.5 38 38.9 37.5 34.4 37.2 36.9 37.5
Atmospheric deposition % 9 9.2 9.6 9.9 9.4 9.5 10.2 9.3 9.7 9.5
Biological fixation % 1.5 1.6 1.8 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.6 2.8 2.8 2.8
Seeds and seedlings % 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Other organic fertilisers % 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2012 2013 2014 2015
Total N input t N 71390 71959.4 74174.8 75299.7
Livestock manure t N 35555.5 35094 35905.3 36683.5
Mineral fertilisers t N 26300 27263 28612 28319
Atmospheric deposition t N 7194.8 7183.3 7233.3 7152.9
Biological fixation t N 2052.6 2141.9 2127.8 2846.4
Seeds and seedlings t N 287.2 277.2 289.3 290.7
Other organic fertilisers t N 0 0 7.2 7.2
Livestock manure % 49.8 48.8 48.4 48.7
Mineral fertilisers % 36.8 37.9 38.6 37.6
Atmospheric deposition % 10.1 10 9.8 9.5
Biological fixation % 2.9 3 2.9 3.8
Seeds and seedlings % 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Other organic fertilisers % 0 0 0 0
Figure KM22-2: Structure of the output of nitrogen from agricultural land in Slovenia in the period 1992-2015
Sources: 

Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, 2016

Show data
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Total N output t N 28752 29376.1 49789.4 46921.3 45376.2 49428.2 49491.8 47511.1 40831.5 40152.4
Temporary and permanent pasture nett production t N 17811.3 16712.2 32460 29760.9 28330.2 31401.8 30783.5 30940.3 25411.7 26073.3
Cereals t N 6028 6762.4 8416.8 8170.1 7762.4 8578.9 8919.4 7557.3 7968 8103
Plants harvested green/Fodder from arable land t N 2760.1 3565.8 5815.3 6051.2 6223.4 6673.3 6709.2 5960.4 4673.6 3928.5
Root crops t N 1060.3 1204 1754.9 1834.9 1840.7 1683 1922.5 2007.1 1640.7 1101.5
Fruits t N 534.7 559.4 621.5 547.2 632.4 575.5 640.8 543.4 716 521.2
Industrial crops t N 293.2 277.8 404.8 212.7 250.9 194.2 212.7 184.9 136.7 186.1
Vegetables % 242.5 269.8 253.8 273.9 283.9 274.8 261.4 288.4 258.7 211.5
Dried Pulses % 21.9 24.8 62.3 70.2 52.2 46.8 42.3 29.4 26 27.3
Temporary and permanent pasture nett production % 61.9 56.9 65.2 63.4 62.4 63.5 62.2 65.1 62.2 64.9
Cereals % 21 23 16.9 17.4 17.1 17.4 18 15.9 19.5 20.2
Plants harvested green/Fodder from arable land % 9.6 12.1 11.7 12.9 13.7 13.5 13.6 12.5 11.4 9.8
Root crops % 3.7 4.1 3.5 3.9 4.1 3.4 3.9 4.2 4 2.7
Fruits % 1.9 1.9 1.2 1.2 1.4 1.2 1.3 1.1 1.8 1.3
Industrial crops % 1 0.9 0.8 0.5 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.5
Vegetables % 0.8 0.9 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.5
Dried Pulses % 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Total N output t N 50404.5 33416.4 50951.8 54875.4 44545.7 49106.6 51120.8 50252.7 52784.9 49663.6
Temporary and permanent pasture nett production t N 32957.6 20670.4 33251.6 35890 28877.2 32889.3 34194.8 33822.1 35652 31718.7
Cereals t N 9754.3 6432.2 9267.4 9153.8 7933.8 8501.9 9335.8 8542.1 9161.2 9726.9
Plants harvested green/Fodder from arable land t N 5019 4189.7 5722.6 7038.8 5004.8 5440.4 5703 6006.7 5929.5 6096.1
Root crops t N 1286 973.8 1223.4 1256.2 1059.7 491.8 380.4 401 366.6 345
Fruits t N 714.7 571.5 777.9 648.9 628.1 662.4 582.8 598 628.3 640
Industrial crops t N 390.6 352.7 369.9 404.1 422.7 697.6 517.2 528.1 776.5 750.4
Vegetables % 234.1 195.8 264.7 281.6 257.5 213.3 258.3 277.4 196.7 249.9
Dried Pulses % 48.2 30.3 74.3 201.9 361.8 209.9 148.7 77.2 74.1 136.7
Temporary and permanent pasture nett production % 65.4 61.9 65.3 65.4 64.8 67 66.9 67.3 67.5 63.9
Cereals % 19.4 19.2 18.2 16.7 17.8 17.3 18.3 17 17.4 19.6
Plants harvested green/Fodder from arable land % 10 12.5 11.2 12.8 11.2 11.1 11.2 12 11.2 12.3
Root crops % 2.6 2.9 2.4 2.3 2.4 1 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.7
Fruits % 1.4 1.7 1.5 1.2 1.4 1.3 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.3
Industrial crops % 0.8 1.1 0.7 0.7 0.9 1.4 1 1.1 1.5 1.5
Vegetables % 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.4 0.5
Dried Pulses % 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.8 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.3
2012 2013 2014 2015
Total N output t N 44216.1 39155.5 53897.8 54137.8
Temporary and permanent pasture nett production t N 27622.2 25371.3 34293 34536.7
Cereals t N 9440.8 7449.1 10456.8 10039.8
Plants harvested green/Fodder from arable land t N 5379 4634 7037.7 7578.4
Root crops t N 290.2 235.1 339.6 319.5
Fruits t N 460.3 561.5 538.1 655.7
Industrial crops t N 742.8 642.6 891.7 638.7
Vegetables % 219.2 224.7 278.7 298
Dried Pulses % 61.5 37.2 62.3 71
Temporary and permanent pasture nett production % 62.5 64.8 63.6 63.8
Cereals % 21.4 19 19.4 18.5
Plants harvested green/Fodder from arable land % 12.2 11.8 13.1 14
Root crops % 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.6
Fruits % 1 1.4 1 1.2
Industrial crops % 1.7 1.6 1.7 1.2
Vegetables % 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.6
Dried Pulses % 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Figure KM22-3: Nitrogen balance surplus in Slovenian agriculture for the period 1992-2015
Sources: 

Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, 2016.

Show data
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Gross N surplus t N 60803.9 51985.2 31630.8 33614.7 33096.2 31048.3 32184.8 34443.9 43375.1 43745.5
N emissions t N 19926.3 18320.1 18224.6 18317 17642.7 17915.7 18068.3 17962.4 18710.8 18529.3
Nett N surplus t N 40877.6 33665.1 13406.2 15297.7 15453.5 13132.6 14116.5 16481.5 24664.3 25216.2
UAA 1000 ha 555.9 552.8 537.6 525 513.5 494.3 490.9 498.6 509 509.6
Gross N surplus kg N/ha 109.4 94 58.8 64 64.5 62.8 65.6 69.1 85.2 85.8
N emissions kg N/ha 35.8 33.1 33.9 34.9 34.4 36.2 36.8 36 36.8 36.4
Nett N surplus kg N/ha 73.5 60.9 24.9 29.1 30.1 26.6 28.8 33.1 48.5 49.5
N input kg N/ha 161.1 147.2 151.5 153.4 152.8 162.8 166.4 164.4 165.4 164.6
N output kg N/ha 51.7 53.1 92.6 89.4 88.4 100 100.8 95.3 80.2 78.8
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Gross N surplus t N 34256.5 49613.1 25714.3 21943.5 33528.8 29802.8 21651.1 25493.3 21695.4 22718.5
N emissions t N 19472.2 18355 16994.2 17309.7 17370.9 17849.3 16530.8 17386.6 16758.4 16034.9
Nett N surplus t N 14784.3 31258.1 8720 4633.8 16157.8 11953.5 5120.3 8106.8 4937.1 6683.6
UAA 1000 ha 505.5 509.7 490.5 508.8 490.3 498.5 492.4 468.5 482.7 458.2
Gross N surplus kg N/ha 67.8 97.3 52.4 43.1 68.4 59.8 44 54.4 45 49.6
N emissions kg N/ha 38.5 36 34.6 34 35.4 35.8 33.6 37.1 34.7 35
Nett N surplus kg N/ha 29.2 61.3 17.8 9.1 33 24 10.4 17.3 10.2 14.6
N input kg N/ha 167.5 162.9 156.3 151 159.2 158.3 147.8 161.7 154.3 158
N output kg N/ha 99.7 65.6 103.9 107.9 90.9 98.5 103.8 107.3 109.4 108.4
2012 2013 2014 2015
Gross N surplus t N 27174 32803.9 20277 21162
N emissions t N 15962.7 15739.4 15989.3 16185.6
Nett N surplus t N 11211.3 17064.5 4287.8 4976.4
UAA 1000 ha 479.7 478.9 482.2 476.9
Gross N surplus kg N/ha 56.7 68.5 42 44.4
N emissions kg N/ha 33.3 32.9 33.2 33.9
Nett N surplus kg N/ha 23.4 35.6 8.9 10.4
N input kg N/ha 148.8 150.3 153.8 157.9
N output kg N/ha 92.2 81.8 111.8 113.5
Figure KM22-4: Utilization efficiency of added nitrogen on agricultural land (% of gross input)
Sources: 

Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, 2016

Show data
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Input N kg N/ha 161.1 147.2 151.5 153.4 152.8 162.8 166.4 164.4 165.4 164.6
Output N kg N/ha 51.7 53.1 92.6 89.4 88.4 100 100.8 95.3 80.2 78.8
Efficiency of N utilization (%) % 32.1 36.1 61.2 58.3 57.8 61.4 60.6 58 48.5 47.9
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Input N kg N/ha 167.5 162.9 156.3 151 159.2 158.3 147.8 161.7 154.3 158
Output N kg N/ha 99.7 65.6 103.9 107.9 90.9 98.5 103.8 107.3 109.4 108.4
Efficiency of N utilization (%) % 59.5 40.2 66.5 71.4 57.1 62.2 70.2 66.3 70.9 68.6
2012 2013 2014 2015
Input N kg N/ha 148.8 150.3 153.8 157.9
Output N kg N/ha 92.2 81.8 111.8 113.5
Efficiency of N utilization (%) % 61.9 54.4 72.7 71.9
Figure KM22-5: Gross nitrogen surplus in the Member countries of the European Union (EU-28) for the period 2005-2014
Sources: 

Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, 2016; EUROSTAT, 2016.

Show data
Romania Bulgaria Latvia Estonia Austria Hungary Lithuania Sweden Ireland Portugal
2005 % 12 25 16 21 23 20 35 41 57 45
2006 % 13 24 21 32 28 28 50 47 55 29
2007 % 32 36 20 22 32 48 28 43 47 44
2008 % 14 16 17 36 18 21 34 49 27 34
2009 % 18 20 22 25 25 27 35 26 29 37
2010 % -1 14 29 31 35 36 44 38 34 42
2011 % -11 12 28 32 28 30 40 37 23 40
2012 % 16 24 24 28 38 43 29 27 29 42
2013 % 4 16 28 23 41 38 31 30 44 40
2014 % -1 28 28 22 36 28 25 32 43
2005-2014 % 9.6 21.5 23.3 27.2 30.4 31.9 35.1 37 38.3 39.6
Slovakia Spain Finland Poland France EU-28 Slovenia United Kingdom Greece Italy
2005 % 35 45 48 45 56 54 43.1 67 72 63
2006 % 39 46 55 62 52 58 68.4 64 79 74
2007 % 47 43 42 52 57 58 59.8 64 88 68
2008 % 28 33 50 57 59 53 44 61 69 65
2009 % 32 38 37 48 45 48 54.4 62 65 60
2010 % 46 44 56 52 46 51 45 66 71 59
2011 % 34 35 49 53 57 51 49.6 64 52 63
2012 % 42 39 46 48 44 52 56.7 65 50 80
2013 % 49 36 45 55 50 51 68.5 66 56 70
2014 % 46 49 47 40 50 42 64 59 66
2005-2014 % 39.8 40.8 47.5 51.2 51.6 52.9 53.1 64.3 66.1 66.8
Czech Republic Germany Croatia Denmark Luxembourg Belgium Netherlands Cyprus Malta
2005 % 71 86 110 111 129 146 198 152 233
2006 % 82 96 112 102 129 152 192 153 232
2007 % 86 81 120 105 123 145 178 159 244
2008 % 80 88 117 106 122 124 162 201 215
2009 % 56 70 63 87 120 129 157 178 200
2010 % 67 83 81 90 127 142 167 191 169
2011 % 79 99 94 88 138 143 159 199 132
2012 % 88 86 88 83 125 143 157 184 141
2013 % 76 87 51 87 127 138 146 179 147
2014 % 63 58 80 129 132 140 194 147
2005-2014 % 74.8 86.2 89.4 93.9 126.9 139.4 165.6 179 186

Goals

  • Balanced consumption of nitrogen from mineral fertilisers and livestock manures, gradual increase of the extent of organic farming and prevention of soil loading from point and dispersed sources.
  • To fertilise plants in a way that makes the best use of nutrients without those nutrients being emitted into groundwater and the atmosphere.
  • To reduce and prevent further pollution of waters by nitrates from agricultural production.

 


In the period 1992–2015, the total nitrogen input to agricultural land was reduced from 89,556 to 75,300 tonnes of nitrogen (16%). Input of nitrogen per hectare of utilised agricultural area was also reduced, from 161 kg N/ha to 158 kg N/ha (by 2%). The main sources of nitrogen are livestock manure and mineral fertilisers. Their contribution to nitrogen input in 1992 and 2015 was 48% and 39%, respectively. Other sources are less important: atmospheric deposition contributes 10% to total nitrogen input, biological fixation by legumes contributes 2%, while seeds and seedlings contribute 0.4%. The main reason for the decrease in nitrogen input in the period 1992–2015 is a 27% reduction in the consumption of nitrogen from mineral fertilisers. Input of nitrogen from livestock manure was reduced by 8%. The reduction of utilised agricultural area resulted in reduced input of atmospheric nitrogen (by 14%) and input of nitrogen through seeds and seedlings (by 14%). In the period 1992–2015, input of nitrogen through biological fixation increased by 60% due to an increase in the cultivation of legumes.

The balance of nitrogen, thus the difference between the input and the output of nitrogen, indicates a balance surplus of nitrogen. In the period 1992-2008, the balance surplus amounted to between 23 and 94 kg N/ha. We observed the greatest balance surplus (more than 80 kg N/ha) in the years 1992, 1993 and 2003. Until 2000, with the exception of years 1992 and 1993, the balance surplus was between 38 and 66 kg N/ha, and since 2004, it has been mainly decreasing. In 2008, it was only 24 kg N/ha.

Nitrogen output through crops varied considerably in the period 1992–2015, amounting to between 32,000 and 62,000 tonnes of N per year. Output of nitrogen per hectare of utilised agricultural area in the mentioned period amounted to between 52 and 114 kg N/ha per year. Such great differences are a consequence of different weather conditions, as nitrogen output is notably lower in dry years when crops yields are lower. The main source of nitrogen output is permanent grassland (64%), followed by grain fields (19%) and green fodder from arable fields (12%). Other crops (root crops, tubers, fruit, vegetables, legumes and industrial plants) combined contribute 5% of nitrogen output.

In the period 1992–2015, gross nitrogen balance amounted to 42–109 kg N/ha. The greatest surplus (more than 80 kg N/ha) was recorded in the dry years of 1992, 1993, 2000, 2001 and 2003, when crop yields were reduced, which resulted in lower nitrogen output. The trend analysis clearly revealed that gross nitrogen balance in the period 1995–2015 was decreasing (by 1.6 kg per year, 46% over the entire period). Net balance was also decreasing (by 1.6 kg per year, 78% over the entire period). Lower surpluses indicate better nitrogen management and, consequently, lower emissions of nitrogen compounds into the environment. While 52% of input nitrogen was taken from agricultural land in the period 1992–2003, the percentage increased to 66% in the period 2004–2015, even exceeding 70% in certain years. In the last five-year period (2011–2015), average gross nitrogen balance was 52 kg, while net balance was 19 kg.

In 2000, Slovenia's gross nitrogen balance was equal to the average of the EU Member States (53 kg N/ha). Countries with distinctly high gross nitrogen balance include Malta (186 kg N/ha), Cyprus (179 kg N/ha) , the Netherlands (166 kg N/ha), Belgium (139 kg N/ha) and Luxembourg (127 kg N/ha). Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania had the lowest gross nitrogen balance (10–27 kg N/ha).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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