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Nitrogen (N) budgets of agricultural systems give important information for assessing the impact of N inputs on the environment, and identify levers for action.
N budgets of agro-ecosystems in the 27 EU countries are established for the year 2000, considering N inputs by fertiliser application, manure excretion, atmospheric deposition and crop fixation, and N outputs by plant uptake, gaseous emissions, mineralisation, leaching and runoff.
Country N budgets for agro-ecosystems are based on the models INTEGRATOR, IDEAg, MITERRA and IMAGE. Fine geographic distribution is depicted with the former two models, which have higher spatial resolution. INTEGRATOR is the only available model for calculating non-agricultural terrestrial N budgets systems.
Key findings/state of knowledge
For EU-27, the models estimate a comparable total N input in European agriculture, i.e. 23.3–25.7 Mton N yr−1, but N uptake varies largely from 11.3–15.4 Mton N yr−1, leading to total N surpluses varying from 10.4–13.2 Mton N yr−1. Despite this variation, the overall difference at EU-27 is small for the emissions of NH3 (2.8–3.1 Mton N yr−1) and N2O (0.33–0.43 Mton N yr−1) but estimates vary largely at a regional scale. The estimated sum of N leaching and runoff at EU-27 is roughly equal to the sum of NH3, N2O and NOx emissions to the atmosphere, but estimates vary by a factor two, from 2.7 to 6.3 Mton N yr−1.
Air pollution is known to have a range of effects, including those on human health, crop production, soil acidification, visibility and corrosion of materials. This Chapter focuses on the two major impacts of air pollution that have most strongly influenced the development of policies to reduce emissions: those on the natural environment and on human health.
In broad terms, the major impacts of air pollution on the natural environment can be placed into three categories, representing different spatial scales:
Local impacts of major industrial or urban sources, for example, instances of damage to ecosystems and crop production close to emission sources. Historically, the biggest impacts have been through the direct effects of sulphur dioxide and particles – either around large point sources such as power stations and smelters, or in urban areas with domestic coal burning – and the accumulation of toxic metals in soils around smelters. However, a range of other pollutants from specific local sources can have direct impacts on vegetation.
Regional impacts of ozone, which is a significant global air pollutant in terms of impacts on vegetation, since high concentrations are found in rural areas.
Regional impacts of long-Range Transport and deposition of sulphur and nitrogen, which have effects on soil acidity, nutrient availability and water chemistry, and hence on ecosystem composition and function.
The Chapter first considers direct effects of air pollution on vegetation and the visible symptoms of damage that can result, illustrating the spatial variation in damage by reference to national and local studies in the Netherlands.
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