Increased nutrient loading causes deterioration of receiving surface waters in areas of intensive agriculture. While nitrate and particulate phosphorus load can be efficiently controlled by reducing tillage frequency and increasing vegetation cover, many field studies have shown simultaneously increased loading of bioavailable phosphorus. In the latest phase of the Rural Programme of EU agri-environmental measures, the highest potential to reduce the nutrient loading to receiving waters were the maximum limits for fertilization of arable crops and retaining plant cover on fields with, e.g., no-till methods and uncultivated nature management fields. Due to the latter two measures, the area of vegetation cover has increased since 1995, suggesting clear effects on nutrient loading in the catchment scale as well. We modeled the effectiveness of agri-environmental measures to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loads to waters and additionally tested the performance of the dynamic, process-based INCA-P (Integrated Nutrients in Catchments—Phosphorus) model to simulate P dynamics in an agricultural catchment. We concluded that INCA-P was able to simulate both fast (immediate) and slow (non-immediate) processes that influence P loading from catchments. Based on our model simulations, it was also evident that no-till methods had increased bioavailable P load to receiving waters, even though total P and total N loading were reduced.
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