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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Review of indexing tools for identifying high risk areas of phosphorus loss in Nordic catchments

Heckrath, G.; Bechmann, M.; Ekholm, P.; Ulen, B.; Djodjic, F.; Andersen, H. E.


Compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD) will require substantial reductions in agricultural phosphorus (P) losses in the Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Falling P surpluses in agriculture for more than a decade and voluntary programmes of good agricultural practice have not reduced P losses to surface waters, while general. regulatory measures have primarily focused on nitrogen. Without addressing the role of critical source areas for P loss, policy measures to abate diffuse P losses are likely to be ineffective. This has created a demand by environmental authorities for instruments that assess the risk of P losses from agricultural land and facilitate the planning of mitigation measures. In Nordic countries index-type risk assessment tools for diffuse P tosses are under development inspired by experiences with P indexing in the USA. A common feature is that they are empirical, risk-based, user-friendly decision toots with tow data requirements. Phosphorus indices vary between the four Nordic countries in response to different agriculture, soil and climate. These differences also result in different recent average annual agricultural P toad estimates to the sea of 0.3, 0.5, 0.5 and 1.1 kg total P ha(-1) in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, respectively. In initial evaluations, Nordic P indices explained a large degree of variance in P losses at the field or catchment scale, but comparative data are still limited. To gain acceptance amongst stakeholders and inform river basin management planning in Nordic catchments as part of the WFD, it is crucial to more thoroughly evaluate the performance of these indices' at the field and catchment scale. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. ALL rights reserved.


regulation; P index; Nordic countries; agriculture; water quality

Published in

Journal of Hydrology
2008, Volume: 349, number: 1-2, pages: 68-87

      SLU Authors

    • Ulen, Barbro

      • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
      SDG14 Life below water

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Fish and Aquacultural Science
      Agricultural Science
      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

      Publication Identifiers


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