NITRATES - Repercussion of Agricultural Activities in Nitrate Contamination of Continental Water

LIFE10 ENV/ES/000478

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Luis Sanz AZCARATE
Tel: +34 948382438
Fax: +34 948382391
Email: gavrn@gavrn.com

Project description:


Nitrates currently constitute the main source of diffuse pollution of surface and ground water, affecting to a greater or lesser extent all EU Member States. Concentrations of nitrogen compounds have increased in recent decades, resulting in a significant pollution challenge. The main source of this pollution is the excessive or unsuitable use of fertilisers and residues on livestock farms.

Many public administrations, including the EU, have already introduced new rules for the management of mixed farming. These new rules require the identification of waters affected by nitrate pollution and the definition of the appropriate criteria to establish the vulnerability of specific areas. In addition, they call for the development of action programmes in order to control, prevent or minimise the effects of nitrates on water.


The NITRATES project aims to improve knowledge of the impact of farming and cattle raising on nitrate contamination of waters and to define and promote best practices to reduce this. The project therefore aims to contribute to the implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive 91/676/EEC.

The effects of farming practices on an impermeable pilot area subjected to irrigation and the use of the organic and inorganic fertiliser will be studied. The project will also look specifically at the effects of cattle raising activity and the nitrate inputs and outputs derived specifically from cattle waste management. It will examine the contamination of both surface waters and groundwater.

By means of the analysis of inputs and outputs in the irrigation pilot area, the project will develop new simulation models for quantifying the contamination of groundwater by nitrates from farming sources. It will also extract conclusions to enable an assessment of the action plans and measures that are currently implemented to avoid nitrate contamination.

Where actions are found to be insufficient, the project team will define corrective actions and best practice for local farmers as well as local, regional and national authorities. These will inform decision making tasks related to the planning and protection of the different continental waters - freshwater rivers, lakes, glaciers or groundwater as well as inland saltwater systems - without lost of profitability of agricultural activities. Finally, the project will carry out field demonstrations and training for farmers in order to raise awareness of the appropriate corrective measures.

Expected results:

    • Greater knowledge of the impact of current agricultural practices on nitrate flows;
    • A tool for computing nitrate balance;
    • The identification of best practice for reducing nitrate contamination of waters;
    • Better planning for water protection.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Agriculture - Forestry


agricultural pollution‚  environmental impact assessment‚  groundwater‚  diffuse pollution

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Gestión Ambiental, Viveros y Repoblaciones de Navarra, S.A.
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description Gestión Ambiental, Viveros y Repoblaciones de Navarra S.A. (GAVRN) is a public body established by the Regional Government of Navarra (Spain) and specialising in the management of water, river ecosystems and biodiversity.
Partners ITGA, Spain ITGG, Spain The Navarran Environmental Resource Centre (CRANA), Spain


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/ES/000478
Duration 01-SEP-2011 to 31-AUG -2015
Total budget 2,420,765.00 €
EU contribution 1,147,132.00 €
Project location Navarra(España)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version