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Source: NABU – naturschutzbund Deutschland problem must finally be at the root of the

15. January 2020, the Change will be presented to the fertiliser application Ordinance. Although there are improvements, but the package is not sufficient to reduce the increasing levels of Nitrate contamination and the resulting environmental problems in a targeted and permanently.

Blue-green algae bloom in a eutrophic lake – photo: NABU/Carsten Pusch

Update15. January 2020 – The Federal Ministry of Agriculture’s draft amendment to the Fertilizer Ordinance was presented in the cabinet today. Our conclusion: there are improvements, but unfortunately some changes do not go far enough. This includes exceptions for the fertilization of meadows and pastures in contaminated areas or the confusing rules for the distance between water bodies. In our view, the current proposals are not sufficient to specifically and permanently reduce the increasing nitrate pollution and the resulting problems in water protection and drinking water supply. A fundamental redesign of the fertilizer ordinance, area-specific animal husbandry and a location and crop type-specific fertilization that is geared to the real needs of the plants would bring more benefits to nature conservation and farmers Areas of Germany to massive nutrient surpluses. A large part of the surpluses get into the air and water and pollute both our drinking water and many ecosystems with unwanted nutrient enrichment. For this reason, the European Court of Justice sued Germany and threatened to pay fines if no effective measures to reduce manure and manure were introduced. The measures now proposed were probably considered sufficient by the EU Commission to avert the impending fines of 800 million euros per day. In the end, however, it matters whether they will have the desired effect, and you can read the detailed comments from the leading environmental associations BUND, DNR, DUH, Germanwatch, Green League, Greenpeace, NABU and WWF here. September 2019 – By the middle of this week, the Federal Government must report in writing to the EU Commission how it intends to improve German fertilization law in order to ensure the future EU-wide agreed goals for the protection of groundwater and water bodies. und Wasserwirtschaft (BDEW) and the environmental umbrella organization Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR) criticize that Germany has for 25 years been guilty of an EU legal adjustment of the German fertilizer law. For years, proposals have been discussed almost exclusively on the basis of whether they are approved by agriculture. However, there seems to be no interest in actual improvements. With such a delay tactic, no future-oriented policy can be made. Not only does it harm the environment and waterways, it also damages farmers, who rightly demand planning security. This means that even in heavily nitrate-contaminated grassland, the fertilizer reduction of 20 percent must apply. Because according to the latest FFH report, 37 percent of all grassland and water habitats are in poor condition. The next infringement procedure is already looming here. And offsetting the area-related reduction must be clearly ruled out, especially for fertilizer-intensive crops such as wheat, sugar beet and potatoes. Only animal husbandry that is strictly tied to the area can be part of the solution. It will not work without a reduction in livestock farming. The Federal Government is well advised to add this point in the climate package presented on Friday.25. July 2019 – The EU Commission is apparently now out of patience with the permanent topic of fertilizer regulation. Today, she initiated the second stage of the infringement proceedings with a letter to the federal government. The Commission criticizes the Federal Government’s recent amendments as scientifically insufficient. She is also requesting a bill that must be there in the next eight weeks. The patchwork when fertilizing is extremely embarrassing. With its inaction, the Federal Government is not only harming our groundwater, but also the insects. And farmers still lack any legal and planning security. The fines of 800,000 euros per day (!) Are getting closer and closer. 14. June 2019 – One week after the fertilizer summit, the federal government in Berlin agreed on the evening of June 13, 2019 to tighten the fertilizer rules. But once again she doesn’t jump higher than she has to. But missed the chance to regulate the overdue binding of the number of animals kept to the area with the amendment. With the plethora of exceptions that the federal and state governments have implemented, the EU Commission will find it difficult to accept the proposal. Above all, the exceptions for grassland are catastrophic: The fact that meadows and pastures are excluded from the 20 percent discount rule is not responsible for insect death. Because species-rich meadows and pastures are protected habitats and necessary for the survival of many species. Now meadows and pastures are in danger of becoming a repository for liquid manure – and a grass desert without insects. NABU has already lodged a complaint in Brussels about the disappearance of grassland. With their proposals, the Federal Government is now not only risking a new lawsuit on fertilizer rights, but also a process for nature conservation. 6. June 2019 – The amendment to the Fertilizer Ordinance is only six months old, and improvements need to be made again. The sad spectacle just never ends. For decades, Germany has been delaying the necessary reduction of nitrogen surpluses so that the EU nitrate directive is finally complied with. And what is the Federal Government doing, and especially Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner? She calls a fertilizer summit. Which usually means: There is a lot of talk and little has changed in the end. Or there are again too many loopholes and exceptions to the announced tightened regulations, and there is indeed an exception for grassland. But if the grassland were really excluded from the stricter fertilizer regulations, that would be catastrophic. Because then there is a risk that meadows and pastures, which have not been fertilized so far or only little, will deteriorate to the liquid manure disposal point and thus to a species-poor grass desert without insects. Biodiverse grassland is already at great risk – even though it is of enormous importance for biodiversity, water, soil and climate protection. and animal-friendly conversion of animal husbandry, the nitrate problem cannot be solved. Animal husbandry must be strictly linked to the area and the animal population must not exceed two livestock units per hectare – that is, for example, two cows. This means that in the intensive livestock regions, where the extreme nitrate problems also occur, livestock must be depleted, and it is also clear that if Germany does not drastically lower its nitrate levels in groundwater and surface water, the EU will be fined next year. In the amount of 800,000 euros per day! It is questionable whether the results of the fertilization summit are suitable to prevent this.

Hintergrund50 milligrams per Liter of water – this is the limit value for nitrate in groundwater and surface water in Europe. In Germany, 28 percent of the measurement, however, exceed this value. The nitrate gets into our drinking water, can cause harm to the health, especially in infants and small children. On the other hand this amount of nitrate in the water has a serious impact on the nature.Almost half of all Ecosystems in Germany are now affected by eutrophication and acidification. By the registered nitrogen is the most nitrogen to be over-fertilized poor Ecosystems in Germany. Their original plant species are replaced by nitrogen-loving species, the composition of the plant decreases, communities become unbalanced and in consequence the diversity of species. More than 70 percent of the plant species that are listed in Germany in the Red list, are among the species on nutrient-poor sites.Through seepage and leaching of nutrient surpluses, so also too much nitrate will accumulate in our waters and in groundwater. The water quality is significantly deteriorated, our drinking water and hence human health at risk.Germany and deported to the efforts of the EU the European Union didn’t already want to in 1991, the nitrates Directive is to ensure that exactly that happens. But Germany has taken the consistent implementation of the policy for nearly three decades, again and again, delaying and complicating.

Modern techniques will not solve the Problem-not the cause – photo: Gouwenaar

The result: In 2003 Germany received the first warning from the EU. In 2006 the fertilizer regulation will finally be adapted. The EU Commission decided that it was insufficient and sent another warning letter in 2012. In 2013, she initiated infringement proceedings for non-compliance with the nitrate directive and rising nitrate levels in groundwater and surface water. And again it took several years for Germany to comfortably amend the fertilizer regulation in 2017. But this amended law also failed the European Court of Justice: Germany was convicted in 2018. Contractual penalties of 800,000 euros per day (!) Are now at risk if Germany does not finally take effective measures to reduce nitrate levels by early summer 2020. One thing is clear: the previous tactic of simply sitting out the problem no longer works. And technical measures alone will not be enough to permanently reduce nitrate pollution. We have to tackle the root of the problem and stop the systematic over-fertilization in agriculture and the far too high animal density by reversing agricultural policy, which is what NABU calls for combat using modern application technology, but must address the cause of the problem. The goal must be to comply with the requirements of the EU nitrate directive in the long term. Area-bound animal husbandry The reason for the over-fertilization in many areas is the too high animal density. Especially in regions with intensive and land-bound animal husbandry, such as in the Münsterland and in large parts of Lower Saxony, the high livestock population per hectare leads to systematic over-fertilization.

The animal density in many regions, much too high – photo: Ingo Ludwichowski

In order to reduce the problems here, is an area-based livestock farming, with a maximum of 1.8 LSU (livestock units) per hectare is necessary. A so-called livestock unit corresponds to, for example, a Mature Dairy cow or seven pigs for fattening.A limitation of the livestock density in this altitude would be in the intensive animal husbandry in many cases, a Reduction in the animal numbers necessary to make.2. CAP Reform: nature-friendly farming honor instead of the standard direct payment instead of continue the greater part of the subsidies on the packages to distribute direct payments to the watering can principle, should be reserved for the funds of the EU Common agricultural policy (CAP) for eco-friendly management. At least 50 percent of the funds of the 1. Pillar in the future must be for Eco-Schemes used.3. To protect adequate water distances einhaltenUm waters against Eutrophication, should be distances of tens of meters to the waters edge followed. Some of the Federal länder which is implemented already. Because the statutory five-Meter may not provide adequate protection against leaching of the nutrients.Waters edge strip must be planted with a locally adapted marginal vegetation, the fertilizers, the leaching of nitrate and Phosphate in surface waters is prevented.4. Fertilization, site – and crop-specific figure nThe current fertilizer Ordinance allows a Düngeobergrenze of up to 170 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare and year. The fertilization should, however, related to location and to the needs of the respective culture to be adapted, instead of too high and rigid upper limits to align.

Maize field – photo: BirdLife Europe/

Due to the new calculation basis for nitrogen requirements, the current fertilizer ordinance sometimes allows higher amounts of nitrogen than before. This is up to 40 kg of nitrogen for corn and up to 30 kg for wheat. These nitrogen additions do not depend on the needs of the plant. Measures to build up humus, which serve to protect the soil and the water holding capacity of soils, such as the use of compost or solid manure and the corresponding amounts of fertilizer required, must be taken into account insofar as they do not contribute to over-fertilization .5. Include mineral fertilizers fully in the nitrogen balance Also mineral fertilizers must be fully included in the total nitrogen balance. Due to their high solubility, they contribute much more to nitrate leaching in surface and groundwater than slowly available manure such as compost and solid manure. Therefore, a basic separation of synthetic mineral fertilizers, liquid manure and digestate as well as compost and solid manure should be carried out. 6. Limit fertilization of phosphate to plant needs Phosphate is a finite raw material, which is currently mainly mined from deposits in Morocco and China and is often radioactive. In addition, the soils in the intensive livestock regions are mostly saturated with phosphate, and so far the fertilizer regulation has allowed phosphate fertilization that is up to ten kilograms more than the plant needs. Phosphate is particularly critical for the over-fertilization of water, as it is a deficiency element for most plants and, if it is ingested excessively, it also allows the use of too much nitrogen in the water. This leads to undesirable plant growth in the water (algal blooms, low-oxygen death zones). For this reason, phosphate may only be fertilized in the amount of the actual plant requirements. This need must be determined for each location and culture type. 7. No fertilization of catch crops Fertilization of catch crops should always be prohibited. Legumes are often cultivated as cover crops, which, through their symbiosis with the nodule bacteria, are able to bind atmospheric nitrogen. This fixation of the atmospheric nitrogen is reduced by an additional fertilization.


Implementation of the Nitrates Directive in Germany – an endless story The drama begins in the early 1990s 1991 The EU adopts the European Nitrates Directive. This directive is one of the first documents in EU environmental protection legislation and is intended to ensure water quality in Europe. It aims to reduce and avoid the burden of nutrient inputs from agriculture and obliges the Member States to establish rules of good professional practice in fertilization and, if necessary, to promote them. The directive also makes it possible to designate particularly vulnerable areas for which action programs with specific measures have to be drawn up and implemented.1993The nitrate directive is to be transposed into national law in all member states this year.1996The fertilizer regulation is passed in Germany with a delay of three years At that time, however, decided against setting up region-specific action programs – for example for the Münsterland or Südoldenburg. Since then, all fertilizer laws and regulations have applied to the entire agricultural area in Germany. In December 2003, the EU Commission sent Germany a final written warning because the limit values of 210 kg nitrogen per hectare set in the fertilizer regulation violated the nitrate directive. The EU Commission decides to sue Germany at the European Court of Justice. 2006 The infringement proceedings initiated compel the German government to act: At the beginning of the year, the amended fertilizer regulation will be adopted. Nevertheless, the fertilizer regulation does not tighten some regulations, as would have been expected, but on the contrary softened: For example, the yard gate balance is completely abolished, numerous exceptions to basic rules are permitted – such as barriers to slurry application in winter – and the growing amount of nutrients from biogas plants is ignored, which until now has not been fully documented by companies the promised goals are not. This is the result of a review by a federal-state working group and the German nitrate report of the Federal Environment and Federal Ministry of Agriculture. Instead, both reports point to a significant need to adapt the fertilizer ordinance. 2013 In a brief statement, the Scientific Advisory Councils for Agricultural Policy (WBA) and for Fertilization Issues (WBD) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Advisory Council on Environmental Issues advocate an ambitious reform of the fertilizer ordinance. At the same time, the EU Commission is leading further infringement proceedings against the Federal Government due to inadequate implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive. In the opinion of the EU Commission, the federal government should have acted immediately in view of the results of the nitrate report submitted in 2012. Over the next five years, the following topics and regulations will be particularly controversial in terms of agriculture and environmental policy: Court gate balance (nutrient balance) Training period for manure / liquid manure Buffer strips to water Control values: permitted over-fertilization of nitrogen and phosphate Representatives of the farmers’ association and agriculture, the CDU / CSU in the federal government, the parliament and the agricultural committee, as well as the CDU-governed federal states. From this side there is little interest and activities to make fundamental changes to the existing fertilizer regulation.

“The German fertilizer Ordinance has been successful and will continue in future to ensure further improvements in water protection. The Fertilizer to spend with the most recently created regulation unfolds its full effect. Therefore, the demand for a fundamental amendment of the fertiliser application Ordinance for the farmers to understand.“(DBV – German farmers ‘ Association, 2014)

On the other hand, a wide range of representatives from the EU Commission, the Greens and the SPD acts in the Federal Ministry for the environment, in Parliament and in the Committee on agriculture, as well as in the SPD-ruled States and those with green led agricultural ministries. Add to this the representatives of the science (councils), the environmental organisations and the water industry.

“From the point of view of the WBA inadequate enforcement and control of the fertiliser application Ordinance contributes significantly to one of the Central environmental problems of animal husbandry.”(Scientific Advisory Board on agricultural policy at the BMEL, 2015)

2016Im the autumn, the EU submits-Commission action against Germany. The pressure on the Federal government grows and leads to a further adjustment process of the düngegesetz of the environment in Germany.2017Im the course of the year will be decided on the individual parts of the Düngepakets in agreement with the Federal Ministry for the environment, and in part with the consent of the Bundesrat to the Bundestag.The state of the Ministry of economy hopes the Düngepaket a signal in the direction of the EU-Commission and the pending lawsuit at the European court of justice. The proponents believe to have sufficient measures to ensure future compliance with the EU nitrates Directive is not taken.The Düngepaket consists of the following rules: the Düngegesetz (DüngG), the fertiliser application Ordinance (DüV), the material flow balance regulation (StoffBilV) and the introduction of regulation (WDüngV).

A critical assessment of the Düngepakets the BundesregierungBei the evaluation of the new fertilizer Ordinance, and material balance regulation outweigh the critical voices. A variety of measures taken, the scheme is points – despite some of the successes achieved by the science and environmental organizations as inadequate generous training classified to long Übergangsfristenzu time and to a high quantity of qualifying output losses in the case of organic fertilizer (manure/slurry)is too high upper limits in the case of organic manure (170 kg per hectare), and in particular in the so-called area at risk is not sufficient distance regulations/buffer strips to Gewässernzu high consideration of Futterverlustenzu high fertilisation requirement continued to permissible nutrient surpluses and the lack of limitation of phosphate fertilization on oversupplied soils continue to be possible exceptions to application of Digestate to a lack of effective Düngekataster, since the obligation to keep a Record of the actual nitrogen and phosphate fertilization is not introduced has been inadequate rules for material flow bilanzzu a lot of freedoms for the States, in the vulnerable areas, further action limited Control – and sanction-eligibility violations

“Therefore, it is very questionable whether the adopted regulation provides the basis to reduce Nitrate inputs into the aquatic environment and to reach the limit of 50 milligrams of nitrate per litre in groundwater.”(Association of municipal companies, 2017)”Germany must now get the curve and the Düngevorgaben such a aggravate, that is a massive over-fertilization is prevented in the future. With the regulations referred to in the policy that our soil will be further burdened with tons of nitrate, and the quality of our water is deteriorating steadily. “(Martin Weyand, BDEW-managing Director of water/wastewater, 2017)” (…) the new fertilizer really values the reduction of nitrogen Eutrophication, and thus of nitrate, achieve entries into the groundwater. The main reason for this is the widespread disregard of all agricultural and environmental scientific recommendations (…).“(Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Taube, Kiel University, 2018)

2018Im June 2018 is condemned Germany by the European court of justice. The judgment refers to the old fertilizer Ordinance from the year 2006, but the EU Commission is repeated to indicate that the changes in the 2017 amendment to be sufficient for the implementation of the nitrate Directive.2019Seit the beginning of 2019, it is known that the EU Commission considers that the new Düngepaket is not sufficient. The Federal government is now again under pressure, the fertilizer Ordinance by 2017 to repair. You can’t make it to take until the early summer of 2020, effective measures for compliance with the Nitrate values, threaten penalties in the amount of 800,000 euros per day.After 28 years the Problem is finally at the root of packenIn many areas of European and German Agricultural – and environmental policy, there is hardly any progress to the solution of urgent problems. A major problem in the area of the nutrient surpluses and entries made by agriculture and the resulting pressures on the environment.The NABU calls to grab the problems for the high nitrate values finally at the root and to make fundamental reforms in the düngegesetz of the environment and of agricultural policy. Because clean water is essential for human health and natural Ecosystems.

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