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Journal Articles Regional Environmental Change Year : 2014

How changes in diet and trade patterns have shaped the N cycle at the national scale: Spain (1961-2009)

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Abstract

During the last five decades (1961-2009), Spain has experienced a considerable expansion in the nutrient cycle of its agricultural sector and, in particular, a threefold increase in anthropogenic reactive nitrogen inputs, from 536 Gg N year(-1) in 1961-1965 to 1673 Gg N year(-1) in 2005-2009. Import of feed (soybean, cereals, and cakes) from America and Europe to supply a growing livestock population constitutes the largest share of this increase, along with intensification of synthetic fertilizer use. While in the early 1960s, Spain was nearly self-sufficient in terms of food and feed supply, the net import of agricultural products presently equals domestic crop production, when expressed in terms of nitrogen content (ca. 650 Gg N year(-1)). The most important driver of this shift appears to be the rapid change in domestic consumption patterns, which evolved from a typical Mediterranean diet to an animal-protein-rich diet similar to the North European and American diets. Besides livestock production mostly for national consumption, the Spanish agricultural system has specialized in vegetal products with low N content such as olive oil, wine, vegetables, and citrus fruit, which are for the most part exported. The nitrogen load exported outside the Spanish borders by rivers is very low (6.5 % of the total net N input). As a result of the high import and low export of reactive nitrogen, the Spanish mainland is suffering from considerable pollution by local emissions of reactive nitrogen forms to air and water.
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hal-01194823 , version 1 (07-09-2015)

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Luis Lassaletta, Gilles Billen, Estela Romero, Josette Garnier, Eduardo Aguilera. How changes in diet and trade patterns have shaped the N cycle at the national scale: Spain (1961-2009). Regional Environmental Change, 2014, 14 (2, SI), pp.785-797. ⟨10.1007/s10113-013-0536-1⟩. ⟨hal-01194823⟩
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