Water Quality Management


Sustainable nitrogen management under climate change in Austria

2018 - 2021


Contact Person:
Matthias Zessner Emailmzessner(at)

Project Staff:
E. Strenge, O. Zoboli


Brief Description


Mineral nitrogen fertilizer is a key for agricultural production but has also led to detrimental effects in air and water quality. Climate change will impact agricultural productivity at local and regional scale leading to changes in land use and crop management and consequently in agricultural nitrogen emissions. However, the extent and magnitude of these spatio-temporal impacts remain highly uncertain. This question and the trade-off of nitrogen mitigation measures between environmental improvements and the economic efficiency, are addressed by the use of an integrated modelling framework (IMF). The simulations are carried out for a mid-term time horizon of 2050 under the assumption of four climate scenarios based on the RCP 4.5 and 8.5, and economic and policy conditions based on a shared socio-economic pathway for the European agriculture (Eur-Agri-SSP). The IMF consists of a hydrological rainfall-runoff model (TUWmodel), a crop rotation optimization model (CropRota), a bio-physical process model (EPIC), a bottom-up economic land use optimization model (BiomAT), and two nitrogen emission models (MONERIS and SWAT), which will track Nr emissions from and flows in agriculture. The outputs of the models will be integrated into regionalized nitrogen balances in Austria. This in turn will be used to assess future nitrogen emissions and the impacts of mitigation measures. Finally, the outcome of the research will be a ranking of agricultural management strategies based on both the minimization of future Nr losses to the water, soil and atmosphere and the economic value of the losses due to measures. This shall help to guide policy makers to choose robust measures in a multi-criteria decision-making context.



Integrated model framework to simulate alterations in agricultural nitrogen emissions