Issue Brief
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Reducing fertiliser use in Denmark


The overall objective of the REDUCTIONS* project is to identify the potential for absolute resource and energy use reduction in production-consumption systems at all levels and to explore ways to realise this potential. The project has the ambition to generate knowledge-for-action and aims to propose science-based policies and strategies with a high potential to achieve substantial reductions.
This case study focuses on the use of fertilisers in agriculture. Fertilisers are added to soils to improve the growth, yield and quality of crops. Fertilisers can be organic (e.g. manure) or inorganic (e.g. phosphate and synthetic fertilisers). Direct discharges of manure and excessive or inappropriate use of fertiliser leads to leaching of nutrients to aquatic environments and can cause eutrophication or nutrient enrichment and algal blooms, which in turn leads to hypoxia (oxygen depletion) in water bodies, extensive fish death and ultimately loss of biodiversity.
Besides eutrophication, the diminishing reserves of phosphorus are also of concern in terms of global resources. As reserves of phosphorus are diminishing at a rapid rate, it is most likely that by 2050 all phosphate rock used in the European Union (EU) will come from Morocco, making all EU Member States very dependent on imports from Morocco.
This case study covers policies in Denmark, including the transposition of EU policies, over a period of time of almost 30 years from the 1980s to today.


Mazza, L. D. Fedrigo-Fazio, S. Withana and A. Faria Lopez (2013). Evaluating existing policy mixes to identify solutions for EU resource efficiency – Summary report of 15 reals world policy mixes - Project report. DYNAMIX project, FP7
Tan, A.R. and S. Mudgal (2013). Reducing fertiliser use in Denmark. Case Study conducted in the context of the DYNAMIX project, FP7