The indicator measures the potential surplus or deficit of nitrogen and phosphorous in agricultural soils. A lack of nitrogen or phosphorous may lead to degradation in soil fertility, while an excess may cause surface and groundwater (including drinking water) pollution and eutrophication. Ideally, the input/output of nutrition to the soil should be balanced. Nutrient inputs consist of the amount of nitrogen/phosphorus applied via mineral fertilizers and animal manure as well as nitrogen fixation by legumes, deposition from the air, and some other minor sources. Nitrogen/phosphorus output is contained in the harvested crops, or grass and crops eaten by livestock (escape of nitrogen to the atmosphere, e.g. as N2O, is not taken into account for calculation of the indicator). The land types included in Utilised Agricultural Area (UAA) are arable land, permanent crops and permanent grassland.
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Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union
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