A comparison of disaggregated nitrogen budgets for Danish agriculture using Europe-wide and national approaches

Johannes Kros*, Nicholas J. Hutchings, Inge Toft Kristensen, Ib Sillebak Kristensen, Christen Duus Børgesen, Jan Cees Voogd, Tommy Dalgaard, Wim de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Spatially detailed information on agricultural nitrogen (N) budgets is relevant to identify regions where there is a need for a reduction in inputs in view of various forms of N pollution. However, at the scale of the European Union, there is a lack of consistent, reliable, high spatial resolution data necessary for the calculation of regional N losses. To gain insight in the reduction in uncertainty achieved by using higher spatial resolution input data. This was done by comparing spatially disaggregated agricultural N budgets for Denmark for the period 2000–2010, generated by two versions of the European scale model Integrator, a version using high spatial resolution national data for Denmark (Integrator-DK) and a version using available data at the EU scale (Integrator-EU). Results showed that the national N fluxes in the N budgets calculated by the two versions of the model were within 1–5% for N inputs by fertilizer and manure excretion, but inputs by N fixation and N mineralisation differed by 50–100% and N uptake also differed by ca 25%, causing a difference in N leaching and runoff of nearly 50%. Comparison with an independently derived Danish national budget appeared generally to be better with Integrator-EU results in 2000 but with Integrator-DK results in 2010. However, the spatial distribution of manure distribution and N losses from Integrator-DK were closer to observed distributions than those from Integrator-EU. We conclude that close attention to local agronomic practices is needed when using a leaching fraction approach and that for effective support of environmental policymaking, Member States need to collect or submit high spatial resolution agricultural data to Eurostat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890-901
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Agricultural soils
  • Budgets
  • Disaggregation
  • Modelling
  • National
  • Nitrogen

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