News7 December 2018Brussels, BelgiumAgriculture and Rural Development
EU agricultural outlook 2018-2030: Nitrogen pollution expected to drop
The level of nitrogen lost to water in the EU is projected to drop in the period leading up to 2030, which should have a positive impact on biodiversity. This was one of the primary takeaways from the EU agricultural outlook released 7 December 2018, which includes observations about the anticipated environmental and climatic impact of European agricultural markets for 2018 to 2030.
Most emissions in agriculture come – directly or indirectly – from animal production. In line with the report's projected decrease in EU livestock numbers by 2030, there is a corresponding drop in expected emissions. However higher crop production and manure application will to a large extent counterbalance this change. Greenhouse gas emissions are therefore expected to stay at the same level then in 2012. Despite this, there is an anticipated drop in the level of atmospheric ammonia across the whole EU, with emissions estimated to decrease by 9% by 2030.
The report anticipates a decrease in the amount of nitrogen lost to water in the EU, with projected figures suggesting a drop of 8% when compared to 2012. This change will be primarily driven by productivity gains in the dairy (with less manure produced) and crop sources. This will have a positive effect on plant biodiversity in the EU. The 2012 to 2030 period however should see a modest increase in the potential plant species, showing an increase of 2%.
EU agricultural non-CO2 GHG gas emissions sources in 2030 (million t CO2 equivalent)
Source: DG JRC, based on the 2018 CAPRI baseline
Soil erosion by water, the most significant land degradation process, is still likely to be higher than soil formation rates. These are unlikely to change significantly by 2030, as crop distribution in the EU is not expected to change significantly. However, the report notes that some EU countries that are particularly at risk of damaging soil erosion will see a decrease in the rate of decline with Greece exhibiting the most significant drop (11.2%) due to changes in crop types.
Further information and data can be found in the EU agricultural outlook report for 2018-2030, along with an outlook for EU agricultural markets such as arable crops, the meat and dairy sector, and the fruit and vegetables sector. The issue of the environmental impact of agriculture is also discussed during the EU agricultural outlook conference in Brussels on 07 December.