EU Nitrogen Expert Panel (EUNEP)

The EU Nitrogen Expert Panel aims at gathering key actors from the science, policy and industry communities to contribute to improving Nutrient Use Efficiency in food systems in Europe.

The panel was initiated in 2014 by Fertilizers Europe as a result of the long term commitment of the EU mineral fertilizer industry to encourage the efficiency of fertilizer use in order to optimise plant growth and reduce environmental impact. 

The EU Nitrogen Expert Panel has published a Nitrogen Use Indicator (NUE) to encourage efficient use of nitrogen. The indicator can be used to demonstrate how different farming strategies can contribute towards improved NUE.

The Nitrogen Use 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).

The Nitrogen use efficiency indicator allows farmers to examine differences between fields, farms, farming systems, and between years.       It is a simple indicator, which can be adapted to site and crop-specific conditions, and takes efficiency as well as environmental aspects into consideration. Such an approach would reward farmers for continuous, progressive improvement of their NUE at farm level. The advantage of such an indicator is that it could easily be compared with local/standard values, and so leads to a corridor of good practices, in order to help improves the performance.

The European fertilizers industry actively supports use of the indicator as good practice to improve nitrogen use in food production and it has been put forward as one of the metrics of the Farm Sustainability tool for Nutrients (FaSt) by the European Commission in its proposal for new Common Agricultural Policy.

The Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients aims  to enable a platform for on-farm nutrient management that would help reduce ammonia and N2O emissions from the agriculture sector and improve water quality in Europe.  Such a tool would compile information from satellite data, soil sampling and land parcel information and would be directly accessible to farmers in order to help them make informed decisions on nutrient requirements.