ABSTRACT: Nutrient losses to surface-and groundwater are among the most persistent environmental problems in agriculture. Reduction of (nitrate) emissions in the Netherlands is pursued applying monitoring programmes, research projects and policy instruments (mainly MINeral Accounting System or `MINAS'). Research projects combine nitrate measurements with measurement of so-called nutrient efficiency indicators. These indicators (nitrogen surplus, residual mineral soil nitrogen) are cheaper, are more easily measured (calculated), can be more easily linked to fertilization practices and have a stronger appeal to farmers. Preliminary project results link highest nitrate concentrations to high nitrogen applications, low groundwater levels and potato, scorzonera and vegetable cultivation. Average farm nitrate concentration is almost twice the EU objective (50 mg nitrate/1) which therefore probably only can be realized on arable farms lacking intensive vegetable cultivation. The paper discusses the potential of the given approach to reduce nitrate emissions in other countries.