High-resolution simulation of nitrate leaching from agricultural land across Germany

Germany is under high pressure to further reduce nitrate emissions into water bodies from agriculture. Currently, the connection between observed nitrate concentrations in wells across Germany and agricultural management is not sufficiently understood.

We use the mechanistic agro-ecosystem simulation model MONICA on a high-performance cluster computer to simulate crop growth, management and resulting nitrate leaching on a hectare scale. The simulations are informed by satellite information on crop rotation patterns and grassland use intensity. The determination of organic nitrogen utilisation still remains the largest knowledge gap und source of uncertainty for this method.