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Germany has a problem: there is too much nitrate in the groundwater as well as in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. In most cases, the agricultural sector is the culprit, spreading too much liquid manure and mineral fertilizer on fields.

In order to efficiently reduce the nitrate pollution of a federal state, the interaction of excess fertilizer in agriculturally used soils as well as the hydrological and geological conditions must be analysed. To this end, Jülich agrosphere researchers have developed computer models, which can be used to calculate how much the pollution of groundwater and surface and coastal waters varies – and how the nitrates get there.

umgepflügter Ackerboden mit Bäumen im HintergrundToo much liquid manure and mineral fertilizer are used on fields in Germany.
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Within the GROWA+NRW 2021 project, which is scientifically coordinated by Forschungszentrum Jülich, the researchers model the water and nutrient flows in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). The scientists also simulate whether and to what extent certain reduction measures have the desired effects, and where in the agricultural sector they have to be applied. GROWA+NRW 2021 is carried out on behalf of the Ministry for Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition to Jülich, the project involves the NRW state agency for nature, environment, and consumer protection (LANUV), the NRW geological service, the NRW chamber of agriculture and the Thünen Institute in Braunschweig.

Further information on this project and comparable projects in other states:

Institute of Bio- and Geosciences – Agrosphere (IBG-3)


Prof. Frank Wendland
Tel: +49 2461 61-3165