Following nitrogen inputs from agricultural losses into wetland ecosystems

This project will investigate processes that lead to excess nitrogen inputs from agricultural losses into sensitive ecosystems using new technologies with the aim to inform improved emission abatement and ecosystem protection measures.



Excess nitrogen losses in the form of ammonia (NH3) from agricultural activities (such as animal housings, manure storage and field applications) represent a nutrient loss from the food production system and contribute significantly to air pollution affecting human health and the degradation of sensitive ecosystems. Forests, lakes, and wetlands close to agricultural areas, as is prevalent in Switzerland, experience considerable degradation of soil and water quality reducing biodiversity and affecting the ecosystem’s potential to mitigate climate change. Especially, wetlands are key ecosystems for climate change mitigation due to their large soil carbon stores, as well as being biodiversity hotspots. Because the majority of ammonia is deposited close to the emission source, effects are highly localized, which introduces technical difficulties when developing effective protection measures. This also reduces our capabilities to measure emission abatement methods with sufficient precision. Newly developed instrumentation will allow the high-resolution measurements necessary to improve our understanding of small-scale atmospheric processes. Together with concurrent measurements of long-term effects on ecosystem biodiversity and climate impacts, our aim is to help develop management practices and inform policies to protect key ecosystems and improve agricultural nutrient use efficiency.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 2: Zero hunger
  • 13: Climate action
  • 15: Life on land