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Conference "Resource efficiency in practice - Closing mineral cycles – Effectively addressing the nutrient surplus in Europe"
The Nitrates Directive (1991) aims to protect water quality across Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters and by promoting the use of good farming practices.
The Nitrates Directive forms an integral part of the Water Framework Directive and is one of the key instruments in the protection of waters against agricultural pressures.
More information on the aims, implementation and impact of the Nitrates Directive can be found in the Fact Sheet on the Nitrates Directive.
1. Identification of water polluted, or at risk of pollution, such as:
2. Designation as "Nitrate Vulnerable Zones"(NVZs) of:
The current status of NVZ and whole territory designations can be viewed using the map viewer on the website of the Joint Research Centre.
3. Establishment of Codes of Good Agricultural Practice to be implemented by farmers on a voluntary basis. Codes should include:
4. Establishment of action programmes to be implemented by farmers within NVZs on a compulsory basis. These programmes must include:
5. National monitoring and reporting. Every four years Member States are required to report on:
6. Resource Efficiency in Practice - Closing Mineral Cycles
The project, which was financed by the European Parliament, looked at ways of managing nutrients efficiently at farm level to reduce nutrients' excess negative impacts.
The study addressed the EU-28 with a special focus on eight surplus regions and was divided in two main tasks:
1. The production of a report, including the identification of surplus regions and the state of the art on nutrients surpluses. The report also analyses the costs related to nutrients surpluses and a number of solutions and good practices which could be implemented in the surplus regions.
2. The completion of a number of dissemination activities aimed at reaching out to relevant stakeholders. To this aim, four regional conferences in Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain and a final conference in Brussels were organized in order to reach out to farmers and practitioners. As a final output also leaflets providing practical and region-specific guidance have been produced.
Leaflets: Brittany (France) [EN, FR], Central Denmark [EN, DK], Lombardy (Italy) [EN, IT], Murcia (Spain) [EN, ES], North-Brabant (the Netherlands) [EN, NL], Southern and Eastern Ireland [EN], Weser-Ems (Germany) [EN, DE], Wielkopolskie [EN, PL]
All conference materials are available at the link
Reports and studies
The 4-yearly reports produced by the Member States are used as the basis for a 4-yearly report by the European Commission on the implementation of the Directive.
In order to assist Member States in implementing the Directive and to extend scientific knowledge on best farming practices for protection of water quality and minimisation of nitrogen losses from agriculture, DG Environment also commissions studies on different aspects of the Nitrates Directive.
Member State information
More information on the current implementation of the Nitrates Directive in different EU Member States can be found on websites of competent authorities.