Agricultural point or diffuse pollution in rivers

Agricultural point or diffuse pollution in rivers

Depending on the amounts applied, agricultural fertilisers may have an impact on the surface and groundwater quality in agricultural areas. By this route, those substances may also find their way into our food.

Agriculture is not the only factor which has an impact on the environment, but the anthropogenic diffuse pollution arising from it is an important pollution source for ground and surface water. As agricultural production is inevitably accompanied by leaks into the soil and water, the key question is how to produce in a way that makes those leaks as minimal as possible. The smaller the leaks, the lower the diffuse pollution.

The capability of soils to retain nitrogen or phosphorus differs greatly. In some soils the risks are higher and in some they are lower. The nutrients which have ended up in the aquatic environment as a result of less than optimum use of fertilisers may damage the quality of the water and cause eutrophication of surface water bodies, thereby damaging the aquatic life as well.

In order to alleviate diffuse pollution, the impact of agriculture on six rivers is monitored, and guiding environmental measures and instructions for calculating the balance of nutrients are developed for agricultural producers. More than one hundred different measures to alleviate the effects of the diffuse pollution load from agriculture have already been developed at the European level, but a lot remains to be done to reduce the pollution load in the Baltic Sea.

An in-depth complex study lead by the researches of Tallinn University of Technology will help to gain a better overview of the diffuse pollution load arising from agriculture.