Table 7.4: Overview Nitrogen Loss Indicators and related approaches to assess the risk of N loss from agricultural fields (Buczko and Kuchenbuch, 2010a, complemented)

Main group Sub-group N loss indicator (acronym) Reference Loss processes
Source-based (S)   (S1) N budget (NBal) Oenema et al. (2003) NL
Cassis N Poisvert et al , (2016) NL
Nopolu Doublet et al, (2013) NL
Nitrogen soil surface budget ("Nährstoffvergleich nach DüV") DüV (2017) NL
Nitrogen farm budget ("Stoffstrombilanz") StoffBilV (2017) NL
(S2) "EQUIlibre de Fertilisation" (EQUIF) Aveline et al. (2009) NL
(S3) Residual soil mineral nitrogen (RSN) Schweigert and Zimmermann (2003) NL
(S4) N application rate (NFertApp) Bockstaller et al. (2009) NL
(S5) N use efficiency (NUE) Shaffer and Delgado (2002) NL
(S6) N concentrations of maize plants at silage maturity (Ncm) Herrmann et al. (2005) NL
Transport-based (T) Groundwater vulnerability (TG) (TG1) DRASTIC Aller et al. (1987) NL, VZ, GW
(TG2) Protection function of the vadose zone ("Schutzfunktion der Grundwasserüberdeckung"-SG) Hölting et al. (1995) NL, VZ
(TG3) Aquifer Vulnerability Index (AVI) van Stempvoort et al. (1993) VZ
(TG4) Multivariate Logistic Regression for nitrate contamination of groundwater (MLR) Nolan (2001) NL, VZ, GW
Based on hydrology of soil zone (TS) (TS1) Exchange frequency of the soil solution (EF) Müller (2004) NL
(TS2) Drainage index ("Indice de drainage") (P/RU) CORPEN (2006) NL
(TS3) Leaching Index (LI) Williams and Kissel (1991) NL
Composite NLI (C) Based on scores (CS) (CS1) Colorado vulnerability map (CO-VM) and matrix (COVMX) Ceplecha et al. (2004) NL, VZ
(CS2) "Environmental Sustainability" (EnSus) Woods et al. (2006) NL, SR
(CS3) modified Nitrogen ranking scheme (mNRS) Magette et al. (2007) NL, SR
(CS4) Nitrate Leaching Hazard Index for Irrigated Agriculture (NLHI-IRR) Wu et al. (2005) NL
(CS5) Nonpoint-Source Agricultural Hazard Index (NPSAH) Trevisan et al. (2000) NL
(CS6) N Index of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Ontario (OMAFRA-NI) OMAFRA (2003) NL
(CS7) Pennsylvania N Index (PA-NI) Heathwaite et al. (2000) NL
Model-equation (CE) (CE1) Indicator risk of water contamination by nitrate-nitrogen (IROWC-N) De Jong et al. (2007) NL, (DN)
(CE2) Potential nitrate concentration in leachate (PNCL) Bach (1987) NL, (DN)
Model-complex NLI (CC) (CC1) Annual Leaching Risk Potential (ALRP) Pierce et al. (1991) NL, (AV, DN,) VZ
(CC2) "IN losses" indicator (IN) Pervanchon et al. (2005) NL, AV, DN, NO
(CC3) Methodology for the evaluation of the risk of nitrate leaching (Méthode d’Evaluation des Risques de Lixiviationdes Nitrates)(MERLIN) Aveline et al. (2009)  
(CC4) N-Index Tier-1 (NIT-1) Delgado et al. (2008) NL, AV, DN, ER, SR, (VZ)
(CC5) Norway N index (NO-NI) Bechmann et al. (2009) NL, DN, ER, SR
Netherlands: combination of N budget and leaching fractions Schröder et al. (2007) NL

NL=leaching, VZ=flow through vadose zone, AV=ammonia volatilization, DN=denitrification, ER=erosion, SR=surface runoff, GW=groundwater flow, NO=NO (nitric oxide) emission

Table 7.5: Description and comparison of four indicators related to nitrogen management, on the basis of selection criteria concerning relevance, practicability, and end user value of these indicators (Lebacq et al., 2013)

   Mineral nitrogen fertilisation Livestock stocking rate Nitrogen surplus Nitrogen indicator (IN), Bockstaller et al., 2008) Groundwater nitrate concentration
    Definition N mineral fertilisers inputs Density of livestock on the forage area Difference between N inputs entering and N outputs leaving the farming system (= farmgate budget) Output of a model simulating NO3-leaching, NH3 and N2O emissions Direct measurement
Unit kg N/ha Livestock units(LU)/ha kg N/ha or kg N/kg product Scores mg NO3/litre
Type Means-based Means-based Emissions (budget) Emissions (model-based) Effect-based
Relevance  Temporal scale Annual Annual Annual–monitoring Annual, rotation Monitoring
Spatial scale P/F F F P/F Watershed/R
Practicability   Validity Weak link with the environmental impact, not to be used alone and for a single year (CORPEN, 2006) Literature (Vilain, 2008) Literature (Thomassen and de Boer 2005; Vilain, 2008) Literature (Bockstaller et al., 2008) Direct link with the environmental impact
Data availability ++ ++ + - --
Quantitative/ qualitative Quantitative Quantitative Quantitative Quantitative → qualitative Quantitative
End user value   Ability to summarise - - + ++ ++
Reference values Regional, sectoral reference Regional, sectoral reference Regional, sectoral reference Scores 0–10 (10=no losses, acceptable value from 7) 50 mg NO3/litre
Farmer's leeway ++ + + +/- -

P=parcel level; F=farm level; R=regional level; ++, +, +/−,−, −− relative degree of availability, ability to summarise, and possibility for the farmer to influence the output value


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