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Comparison of regulatory approaches for determining application limits for nitrogen fertilizer use in Germany

This study examined the suitability of three different indicators as entry points for agricultural regulation for limiting excess nitrogen (N) fertilizer inputs in Germany: net soil surface balance, gross farm-gate balance, and fertilization planning. Data on about 6000 farms in Germany were grouped into types for comparative analysis. The design of the regulatory approaches and the reliability of constituent parameters were then examined, and proportions of affected farms and mean N reduction requirements were identified. This revealed that: (a) design and purpose of the regulatory approaches differ, but the data requirements are very similar; (b) the parameters involved differ in reliability and integrity; and (c) the limits for maximum N fertilizer input at farm level vary with approach and farm type.

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