Spatial characterization of reactive N flows in the agro-food system of a semiarid Mediterranean region


This work aims to show the possibility of increasing nitrogen (N) use efficiency of the agro-food system of one region within the most important vegetables production areas in Southern EU. Following spatialization of N flows in this Mediterranean agricultural region, an integrated scenario analysis was performed aiming to propose effective reactive N (Nr) abatement options while being sensitive to maintenance of crop yields.

Our results showed that intensive crop production, mainly under irrigation, and the disconnection of crop and livestock production systems is shaping this agro-food system. High N surplus were estimated in several areas thus enhancing the risk of Nr losses to the environment. Implementation of technical abatement strategies such as manure incorporation would significantly abate Nr losses mainly in the form of NH3 while increasing crop yields. Implementation of this strategy may increase N surplus thus triggering the risk of pollution swapping.