Assessing groundwater denitrification spatially is the key to targeted agricultural nitrogen regulation

Birgitte Hansen, Jens Aamand, Gitte Blicher-Mathiesen, Anders V. Christiansen, Niels Claes, Tommy Dalgaard, Rasmus R. Frederiksen, Brian H. Jacobsen, Rasmus Jakobsen, Anders Kallesøe, Hyojin Kim, Julian Koch, Ingelise Møller, Rasmus B. Madsen, Stefan Schaper, Peter B.E. Sandersen, Denitza D. Voutchkova, Irene Wiborg

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review


Globally, food production for an ever-growing population is a well-known threat to the environment due to losses of excess reactive nitrogen (N) from agriculture. Since the 1980s, many countries of the Global North, such as Denmark, have successfully combatted N pollution in the aquatic environment by regulation and introduction of national agricultural one-size-fits-all mitigation measures. Despite this success, further reduction of the N load is required to meet the EU water directives demands, and implementation of additional targeted N regulation of agriculture has scientifically and politically been found to be a way forward. In this paper, we present a comprehensive concept to make future targeted N regulation successful environmentally and economically. The concept focus is on how and where to establish detailed maps of the groundwater denitrification potential (N retention) in areas, such as Denmark, covered by Quaternary deposits. Quaternary deposits are abundant in many parts of the world, and often feature very complex geological and geochemical architectures. We show that this subsurface complexity results in large local differences in groundwater N retention. Prioritization of the most complex areas for implementation of the new concept can be a cost-efficient way to achieve lower N impact on the aquatic environment.

Antal sider13
TidsskriftScientific Reports
StatusUdgivet - 2024


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