A food laboratory

Reducing nitrate pollution in agriculture

Background

Nitrates and phosphates are useful as plant fertilisers in agriculture, but they are also a dangerous source of pollution when overused for that purpose or when the materials containing them are stored incorrectly. Under the EU’s 1991 Nitrate Directive, member states are required to monitor and take action against pollution of this type. Adopting and implementing these rules is an important part of Turkey’s EU accession process. While national legislation existed in this area, other laws frustrated the required monitoring of water and soil pollution levels.

The project’s aims and core activities

The purpose of this project was to reduce nutrient pollution from the agriculture of surface and ground water resources and soil by bolstering the ability of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to implement the EU’s Nitrate Directive.

In this task, the ministry received assistance from a partner agency in a member state in bringing national legislation into line with the directive and in training its personnel to implement it. In addition, the ministry’s provincial laboratories were provided with the necessary software, systems, and digital maps to monitor, evaluate, share and report data on agriculture pollution in the country’s 81 provinces.

Under the project, mobile laboratories, staffed with personnel trained in water and soil sampling, were deployed in the 20 most agriculturally intensive and irrigated provinces. Codes of conduct on nitrate use, action plans for vulnerable areas, and practical guidelines for farmers were also prepared and disseminated.