A recently published report about the implementation of EU Directive concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources contains good news. The content of nitrogen compounds in soil and groundwater is decreasing, while farmers are using nitrates in a far more sensible manner.
Indiscriminate use of nitrogen-based fertilizers by farmers and the livestock feces in soil and water have brought about considerable, harmful changes in the ecosystem: pollution of air, water, soil and excessive eutrophication. Therefore, Nitrates Directive was approved in 1991 to regulate the issue of nitrates use.
Challenges for the EU
Current tasks for the EU include the issue of countries where the saturation of soil with nitrates is high (Great Britain, Malta, Belgium). The problem with excessive eutrophication concerns over 40% of lakes in EU, and almost 100% lakes in the Netherlands. While more and more farmers cultivating cereals use nitrogenous fertilizers judiciously, there remain problems with nitrates used in gardening, livestock breeding and the cultivations of energetic plants used for the production of biofuels.
What comes after fertilizing with nitrogen?
Knowledge is essential to be able to make full use of nitrogen-based fertilizers without risking harmful influence on the environment. Desirable skills are: the ability to apply formulas in the appropriate manner, using the correct quantity of the product and adjusting the above to current weather conditions. Such initiatives as Competences Center established by Grupa Azoty “PUŁAWY” respond to the market demand for research, education and training. The Center aims at educating farmers, creating teams of agricultural advisers and doing research concerning effective methods of using nitrogen in fertilization processes. Thanks to this, sustainable farming based on both modern fertilizers and knowledge stands a chance of having positive impact on the environment.