National-scale modelling of N leaching in organic and conventional horticultural crop rotations - policy implications

Ulrich Schmutz, Francis Rayns, C. Firth, C. Nendel, R. Lillywhite, K. Zhang, Clive Rahn

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


    A method is presented to model N leaching in crop rotations on a national scale. Representative crop rotations for different regions and soil types are used in the cross- disciplinary, plant, soil, environment & economics model EU-Rotate_N. By comparing contrasting farming systems (organic and conventional) in the UK, their strengths and weaknesses in delivering environmental and economic sustainability can be assessed. Modelling results show that the annual leaching in different horticultural rotations and UK regions, using median weather, is within the range of 13 - 88 kg N/ha/year for organic and 54 - 130 kg N /ha/year for conventional. The weighted annual average figures are 39 kg N/ha/year for organic and 81 kg N/ha/year for conventional, respectively. It is concluded that organic horticultural rotations, with a current share of 6.1% already contribute to lower overall N losses from agriculture. However, on a UK national scale, only a large share of organic land use (e.g. > 50%) has a large effect on reducing N losses. Similar reductions are also predicted by substantial cuts in conventional N inputs, giving a policy choice if pollution from agriculture steps up further on the political agenda.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCultivating the Future Based on Science: Organic Crop Production
    Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Second Scientific Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR), held at the 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress in Cooperation with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the Consorzio ModenaBio, 18 – 20 June 2008 in Modena, Italy
    EditorsDaniel Neuhoff, Niels Halberg, Thomas Alföldi, William Lockeretz, Andreas Thommen, Ilse. A. Rasmussen, John Hermansen, Mette Vaarst, Lorna Lueck, Fabio Caporali, Henning Hogh Jensen, Paola Migliorini, Helga Willer
    Publisher International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR)
    Number of pages4
    ISBN (Print)978-3-03736-023-1
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2008
    Event16th IFOAM Organic World Congress - Modena, Italy
    Duration: 18 Jun 200820 Jun 2008


    Conference16th IFOAM Organic World Congress


    • Nitrogen leaching
    • Modelling
    • Crop rotations
    • Vegetables
    • Water framework directive


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