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Context - This paper describes the environmental consequences of agricultural adaptation on eutrophication of the nearby ecological network for a study area in the Netherlands. More specifically, we explored (i) likely responses of farmers to changes in climate, technology, policy, and markets; (ii) subsequent changes in nitrogen (N) emissions in responses to farmer adaptations; and (iii) to what extent the emitted N was deposited in nearby nature reserves, in view of the potential impacts on plant species diversity and desired nature targets. Methods - For this purpose, a spatially-explicit study at landscape level was performed by integrating the environmental model INITIATOR, the farm model FSSIM, and the land-use model RULEX. We evaluated two alternative scenarios of change in climate, technology, policy, and markets for 2050: one in line with a ‘global economy’ (GE) storyline and the other in line with a ‘regional communities’ (RC) storyline. Results - Results show that the GE storyline resulted in a relatively strong increase in agricultural production compared to the RC storyline. Despite the projected conversions of agricultural land to nature (as part of the implementation of the National Ecological Network), we project an increase in N losses and N deposition due to N emissions in the study area of about 20 %. Even in the RC storyline, with a relatively modest increase in agricultural production and a larger expansion of the nature reserve, the N losses and deposition remain at the current level, whereas a reduction is required. Conclusions - We conclude that more ambitious green policies are needed in view of nature protection.
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