Still a long way to go
Excessive nitrate concentration in the surface water threatens the drinking water supply and can lead to excessive algae growth in the surface water. The Manure Action Plan (MAP) surface water monitoring network is located in smaller watercourses where agriculture is the determining factor in water contamination. The results are presented per winter year (July-June).
The average nitrate concentration and the percentage of measurement locations with standard exceedance follow quite parallel trend. Between 2003-2004 and 2007-2008, little changed. In the winter year 2011-2012, the nitrate concentration exceeded the standard at 28 % of the measurement points in agricultural areas. The standard specifies 50 mg nitrate per litre as the maximum per measurement point. The situation must improve significantly if the target of the standard being exceeded by 16 % at the most in 2014 as specified in the MINA plan 4 (2011-2015) is to be achieved. The ambition is to decrease that percentage to less than 5 % before 2018.
Improvement at 29 % of the measurement points
A statistical trend analysis per measurement location shows that, at approximately 68 % of the locations, the nitrate concentration does not show any significant trend in the period 2000-2011. 29 % of the measurement locations show a significant downward trend and nearly 3 % a significant upward trend. This analysis thus shows that the improved situation by no means applies to all measurement points.
Farmers can reduce the nitrate losses further by using less manure and applying it better, but also, for example, by sowing green cover crop in winter and creating buffer strips alongside watercourses. To this end, farmers are invited to participate in so-called water quality groups to exchange knowledge and practical experiences.