The indicator measures the potential surplus or deficit of nitrogen and phosphorous in agricultural soils. Ideally, the values for nitrogen and phosporus are close to 0 which means a balanced input/output of nutrition to the soil. 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 difficult to estimate and therefore not taken into account). The land types included are arable land, permanent crops and permanent grassland.
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Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union
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