Resource efficiency in practice: Closing mineral cycles

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Nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are essential elements for living organisms, including plants, animals and bacteria. They are used as fertilisers in agriculture to guarantee high yields and quality products. However, the increasing demand not only in food production, but also in feed, fibre and fuel, has resulted in an increasing use of N, P and K. The depletion of non-renewable resources (such as mined phosphates rock) jeopardises the viability of the current agricultural production systems in the long term. In addition, while progress has been made towards sustainable agricultural practices, a number of inefficiencies are observed in nutrient use which can lead to the degradation of land, soil and water resources. Ultimately, this can impede well-being and economic growth from farm level to EU level. In this context, the first objective of the project “Resource efficiency in practice – Closing mineral cycles” was to identify the most promising measures at regional and farm levels, in particular in nutrient saturated areas, to improve the use of nutrients and to reduce their negative impacts. The second objective was to communicate the information gathered to farmers, farmers’ associations, and regional decision-makers in an educational style to empower them to take action at their level. Communication channels included leaflets, a dedicated website ( and four regional conferences, as well as a final conference in Brussels.

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