Flanders' fertiliser problem: illegal use higher than thought

Flanders' fertiliser problem: illegal use higher than thought

Almost half of the fertilizers used in agriculture in Flanders are illegal, according to information published by De Standaard.

Water pollution in the north of Belgium is generally attributed to livestock, however, it now appears that part of the problem is also due to crops. Fertilizers are even more problematic than manure, University of Gent’s fertilizer specialist Professor Jeroen Buysse said. 

The amounts of sprayed chemical fertilizers are not controlled. Farmers declare on their own how much they use. The 2018 report indicates that 48.6 million kilograms of nitrogen from artificial fertilizers were used in Flanders fields, compared to 90.6 million kilos of animal manure fertilizer. However, extrapolation of accounting data of some 700 farmers shows that it was in reality 84.2 million kg of nitrogen from chemical fertilizers. Half is used illegally. 

The Flemish Land Agency, responsible for the management of open spaces in Flanders, recognizes that fertilizers are a major problem. An action plan will now require both fertilizer suppliers and farmers to enter digitally their data (amounts sold and sprayed). "This will allow comparison of data and detection and punishment of false records," the agency said.

The Brussels Times

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