The preliminary Danish nitrogen footprint -Applying nitrogen footprints and using policy scenarios to change behavior

Morten Graversgaard1, Tommy Dalgaard1, Allison M. Leach2, Lia R. Cattaneo3, James N. Galloway3

1 Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Tjele DK-8830, Denmark,

2 Department of Natural Resources & the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA

3 Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 291 McCormick Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA


In the past century, human activity has reshaped the global nitrogen (N) cycle, so that the anthropogenic changes to the N cycle have already crossed the safe operating space for the stability of earth system processes. Consumer driven, integrated practice and policy solutions are needed to achieve N source control and mitigation of the unintended consequences of excess N. This paper presents the preliminary results of the first approach to the Danish N footprint model to build awareness of protein consumption and embedded N in Danish society. Denmark’s agriculture has a high meat export-production which have resulted in local N pollution problems. These unintended consequences of meat production in Denmark have raised awareness among citizens, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and politicians to deal with the problem in an integrated manner. There is a growing interest in finding the right suit of policy measures to reduce meat consumption and N pollution in Denmark. In this paper the preliminary Danish N-footprint results will be compared and modelled through 7 policy scenarios (three food production scenarios, one food consumption, one food waste, one energy and one transportation scenario) to find out how policies on protein consumption and N can contribute to a more sustainable pathway in Denmark.