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Cooper, J., M. Quemada, H.L. Kristensen and G.J.H.M. van der Burgt. 2012. Toolbox of cost-effective strategies for on-farm reductions in N losses to water. Final Report. Rep. N-TOOLBOX KBBE-2008-1-2-08. Newcastle University, Newcaste. 18 p.

Number of pages: 18

Type of document: Report

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More information on authors/freelancers connected to LBI :
G.J.H.M. van der Burgt MSc.

Language of document: English

Title in English: Toolbox of cost-effective strategies for on-farm reductions in N losses to water. Final Report

Abstract / summary in English:

The movement of nitrates into groundwater and surface water from agricultural sources has been identified as a major environmental and health issue within the European Union. The Nitrates Directive was adopted in December 1991 as a tool to address this issue and the Water Framework Directive was more recently implemented. In spite of the best efforts of legislators in the EU and member states, water quality in many European surface and groundwater bodies remains below the desired standard. The NTOOLBOX project began in 2009 in response to a call from the EU for a project that would improve uptake of the Nitrates Directive at the farm level across the EU. The project brought together partners in the UK, The Netherlands, Denmark and Spain. The emphasis of the project was on the identification and testing of practical solutions to the problem of nitrate pollution within the agricultural sector.
The overall aim of this project was to develop a 'toolbox' of cost-effective technologies to be implemented at the farm level to protect water from nitrate pollution. As well as identifying appropriate technologies, the project also aimed to document approaches to promoting uptake of the technologies. Each project partner worked on the ground with farmers to test out new strategies while at the same time noting the techniques that effectively engaged farmers in the problemsolving process.
Activities within the project focussed on three key areas: analysis of literature to identify the best strategies for reducing losses of nitrates to water from agriculture; improvement of the decision support tool NDICEA; and, test-driving the N-TOOLBOX of strategies on farms. The main output from WP1 was the document: Innovative and cost-effective technologies to reduce N losses to water from agriculture in the EU: a catalogue of farm level strategies. This document lists 39 strategies within 8 different categories, with the 'win-win' strategies (methods that reduce N losses to water and save money) ranked highest. The document is available as downloadable pdf file on the project website ( and has also been converted to an easy-to-use on-line tool.
In WP2 the software package NDICEA ( was introduced to the project partners and adapted for use in each partner country. The geographic range of the software was expanded by adding environmental files (weather and soil data) from England, Spain and Denmark. The language of the interface was also amended to include Spanish as well as English, Dutch and German. Working directly with farmers in WP3 was a new experience for many of the project partners. This was viewed as positive as it allowed the scientists to gain an improved appreciation of the practicalities of N management at the farm level. NDICEA proved very effective during farmer meetings as a stimulus for discussion about causes of N losses within a crop rotation, and for investigating strategies to reduce those losses. In WP4 the final stakeholder workshop brought together representatives from a number of Departments within the Commission (e.g. DG Agriculture, DG Environment, DG Climate and DG Research), as well as some national representatives. It provided a useful opportunity to present findings to key stakeholders and to identify further activities to add value to the work done within the N-TOOLBOX project.

Keywords in English: Nitrogen, N-Toolbox, NDICEA, nitrate, leaching
Toolbox of cost-effective strategies for on-farm reductions in N losses to water. Final Report