The implementation of the Nitrates Directive has imposed a requirement to restrict N fertiliser and manuring practices on farms across the EU in order to reduce nitrate losses to water. These requirements have since been extended by the more demanding Water Framework Directive, which broadens the focus from the control of farm practices to a consideration of the impacts of pollutants from all sources on water quality at a catchment or larger scale. Together, these Directives set limits for water quality, and identify general strategies for how these might be achieved. However, it is the responsibility of policy makers in each Nation State to design the details of the management practices and environmental protection measures required to meet the objectives of the legislation, to ensure they are appropriate for their specific types of land use and climate. This paper describes various modelling tools for comparing different cropping and land use strategies, and illustrates with examples how they can inform policy makers about the environmental benefits of changing management practices and how to prioritise them. The results can help to provide the specific advice on N fertiliser and land use management required by farmers and growers at a field scale, and by environmental managers at a catchment or larger scale. A further example of how results from multiple catchments can be up-scaled and compared using Geographic Information Systems is also outlined
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