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Indicator: Nitrate in groundwater

A graph shows the proportion of groundwater sampling sites where nitrate measurements for the years 2008 to 2014 were above 25 and 50 milligrammes per litre. In the period covered, neither sub-indicator has shown any significant change.

The European Nitrates Directive places Germany under the obligation to prevent exceedances of the threshold of 50 milligrammes per litre.This threshold has been exceeded at around 18 % of sampling sites since 2008.The EU Commission has initiated infringement proceedings against Germany.Agriculture is the most important source of high nitrate concentrations in groundwater. read more


Indicator: River eutrophication by phosphorus

A graph shows the distribution of total phosphorous quality classes (QC) II-III and below for 1982 to 2014. The proportion of higher exceedance (QC IV) has dropped markedly, that of lower exceedance (II-III) has risen sharply.

Elevated phosphorus concentrations are recorded at almost two thirds of all river measurement stations.This proportion has only declined slightly since the beginning of the 1980s. However, very high levels of pollution are very rare nowadays.The Federal Government's aim is to meet the requirements for good status for phosphorous in all water bodies by 2030 at the latest.This primarily requires a c... read more

Soil | Agriculture

Ecological impact of farming

Tractor with tow tube

Germany’s farming sector uses the largest amount of land, but is at the same a lynchpin of our economy – one that provides a reliable food supply and produces sustainable raw materials. The farming sector also plays a key role when it comes to preservation and development of the man-made environment. But increasingly intensive farming brings with it a host of eco-unfriendly effects. read more

Soil | Agriculture


A tractor spreading fertilizer on a field

In as much as nitrogen is an indispensable nutrient for all living things, the use of mineral and organic nitrogen fertilizers to increase crop yields is a common practice. It is essential that such fertilizer be used judiciously and on a needs oriented basis. Nitrogen surpluses can damage terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and can have harmful climatic, air quality, and biodiversity effects. read more

Soil | Agriculture


Großaufnahme eines Traktors, der auf einem Feld Gülle ausfährt

In order to develop and grow, apart from adequate water, plants need nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate and potassium and trace elements such as copper and zinc. Only if these requirements are met can high yield, high quality crops be obtained. Crop plants obtain nutrients and trace elements from the soil via their root systems, a process in which soil humus content plays an instrumental role.... read more


The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment