Due to low groundwater recharge rates and intensive agricultural land use, elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater are measured in Lower Franconia, Bavaria (Germany). Analysis of cultivation practice in this region showed that crops with high nitrogen-surplus were cultivated to a significant extent. By the example of a catchment area where drinking water is extracted, an approach for a change in agricultural land use was tested. Fields were classified according to soil quality and the type of sub-soil. Measures like conversion of arable land into grassland or changes in type of crop that is grown, were adjusted to the local (field) conditions. Thus nitrogen surplus could be reduced to half by the extensification of one third of the agricultural land. Due to the classification system, the measures are realised in the most cost-effective way as well.

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