Farm to fork strategy

The role of nutrients

 

The “Farm to Fork” strategy puts forward the ambition for 2030 to reduce nutrient losses to the environment from both organic and mineral fertilizers by at least 50%, while ensuring no deterioration in soil fertility. The European fertilizer industry recognizes the need to reconcile agriculture while maintaining a competitive agricultural sector in Europe. But what is the way forward?

Recognize national and regional differences

The amount of nutrients used today per hectare of agricultural land varies a lot from one EU Member State to another due to the diversity of agricultural products and production methods, as well as different climatic zones and soil conditions in Europe. Unless a differentiated approach is introduced, there is a risk of discriminating certain European countries by setting an EU target that would basically limit their further agricultural development and progress.

 

Tap into the promising opportunities of digital farming

 

Regarding the way to move forward, the EU agriculture sector can tap into the promising opportunities that come with digital farming and progress of knowledge. In concrete terms this can be translated into the application of best fertilization practices and innovative fertilizer products targeted to specific crops. Also, it encompasses the use of new tools combined with real time data and smart farming application methods which offer a further boost to agricultural efficiency while addressing environmental challenges.

 

Reap the benefits of ready to use tools such as the Nutrient Use Efficiency Indicator

The EU Nitrogen Expert Panel which brings together experts from academia, EU institutions, and industry has developed the Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) indicator, aiming to promote efficient nitrogen use in food production. 

 

The Nitrogen Use Efficiency Indicator

The NUE indicator is based on nitrogen input and nitrogen output at different levels and provides information about resource use efficiency, the economy of food production (nitrogen in harvested yield), and the pressure on the environment (nitrogen surplus).

 

Nitrogen flows

Nitrogen Use Efficiency Indicator

The NUE indicator considers the problems arising from both insufficient and excessive use of nitrogen. The indicator can be broken down to 3 simplified production scenarios. In each of these scenarios the NUE indicator can provide advice on farm practices on how to optimise the use of nitrogen by either addressing nitrogen deficiency or optimising its use.