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Lower nutrient surplus in croplands

Long-term progress:
The nutrient balance of agricultural land clearly fell in 1996–2011, both as regards nitrogen and phosphorus, particularly the latter.
Short-term progress:
During the current term of agri-environmental support, 2007–2013, the phosphorus balance was an average of 50% and the nitrogen balance an average of 15% lower than in 2000–2006.
Progress in relation to targets:

Nitrogen and phosphorus balance in agriculture 1996–2011

Nitrogen and phosphorus balance in agriculture

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 2013.

Situation eased by more accurate estimates of fertiliser needs

Since the 1990s, the nutrient balance of cropland has declined in Finland, with the phosphorus balance in particular falling by up to one quarter from 1996 to 2011 and the nitrogen balance lowering by around a third.

The nutrient balance is derived by comparing the quantity of nutrients added to a field to the quantity removed in the crop. The lower the balance, the smaller the nutrient surplus remaining in the field. Excess nutrients can be washed into water bodies or seep to groundwater.

Nutrient balances have declined since more precise estimates of fertiliser needs have become available together with advanced soil fertility analysis services.

Monitoring of nutrient balances is an additional agri-environmental support measure in the current 2007–2013 support period. One of the conditions of agri-environmental support is that farmers commit themselves not only to mandatory basic measures, but also to a certain number of additional measures. Farmers who have chosen nutrient balance as an additional measure must calculate the annual nutrient balance of each field plot covered by support. This provides them with information on any excess use of fertiliser.


  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 2013.
Published 2014-04-09 at 8:42, updated 2014-04-09 at 8:42