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Cost-curves for mitigating multiple water pollutants, ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions on farms – FARMSCOPER decision support tool, USER-GUIDE and economic analysis for pollution mitigation methods - WQ0106

The policy needs of European and UK governments impose strong strategic and applied pressures that pull heavily on land-water science, often needing rapid practical solutions to complex problems. The Water Framework Directive is the main driver, imposing tight deadlines on policy making decisions that culminate in 2015, when ‘good’ ecological and chemical status of catchments needs to have been achieved. The UK government, through Defra, is currently carefully assembling the evidence base. Historically, Defra-funded research has contributed much to the basic processes, especially through the nitrate and phosphorus research programmes. Much mechanistic understanding of the sources, mobilisation and transport of nitrogen and phosphorus has been achieved here and there is considerable benefit being reaped from this strong research base for these nutrients. The evidence base for other pollutants, such as faecal indicator organisms (FIOs – commonly labelled pathogens) and silt/sediment is not so well assembled.

Despite this, Defra has rightfully made some strategic effort to try to bring together some common modelling approaches to help with management and understanding of diffuse pollution. These were manifested in projects such ‘phosphorus cost curve’ (PE0203), ‘nitrate cost curve’ (NT2511) and ‘other’ diffuse pollutants (COST DP - ES0121). These projects were moderately ‘science driven’ (as opposed to being ‘policy reactive’), drawing on the established R+D base in place for nitrogen and phosphorus. In addition to these ‘science-driven’ modelling approaches, there has also been a number of projects funded that are ‘policy reactive’. These are the projects we call 'DP Inventory', which developed into DP Inventory 2 (ES0203) and 3 (ES0205), and as such require decisions and best expert judgements to be made where scientific evidence is uncertain, sparse or non-existent.

What is required?
This new project attempts to back up some more recent ‘policy reactive’ advances with some ‘science driven’ research. With the rapid evolution of these modelling approaches, some short-comings have emerged that need to be addressed if we are to proceed with answering the key diffuse pollution questions to help achieve WFD targets. These short-comings can be separated into (1) absence of a single coordinated modelling framework that uses the same modelling approach for all relevant diffuses pollutants and (2) absence of real model verification in the field. For example, although we know with reasonable confidence how nitrogen or phosphorus might leave the soil, we do not know with reasonable certainty what mitigation options may or may not work for the pollutant in question, especially on varied farm types in varied catchments around the UK.
This project will develop the scientific basis for mitigating multiple diffuse pollutants and attempts to unify previous work that has been conducted on diffuse pollution, as well as building some new frameworks. It will start a framework to contribute to a much needed scientific evidence base, with associated rigour, that can be used to test and validate existing model frameworks being planned for water policy. The work will also start to assess the potential effects of climate change on these issues and potential for energy as a 'common' currency in future diffuse pollution modelling, building new frameworks with new, ‘science driven’, approaches to modelling. The work will develop specifically from the nitrate and phosphorus research, and from the cost curve and COST DP programmes. The project will be conducted over three years in the first instance.
MOD-DP will operate with four modules called workpackages, picking up strands developed in the past from previous Defra work. Workpackage one would be a priority area, addressing urgent policy requirements for Defra's Catchment Sensitive Farming policy makers following on from ES0203/5, and it will be led by ADAS as a subcontractor to IGER. This work is high priority & policy driven and needs to be completed by autumn 2006. Objective Two will be a review of the Defra Phosphorus Research Programme for the last 15 years, and it will involve ADAS as a subcontractor to IGER. Objective 3 is called be 'COST DP All' and we would synthesise previous cost curve approaches in to a common modelling footing for all diffuse pollutants, joint with ADAS. Objective 4 would examine potential effects of climate change on soil pollutant transport and will involve developing some new basic modelling structures and will involve some collaboration with the Hadley Centre.
1. To provide the scientific support to underpin Defra’s policy development on control of diffuse water pollution from agriculture (Work Package 1):
1.1. To provide an assessment of baseline (2015) diffuse pollution losses from agricultural land
1.2. To make a quantitative assessment of supportive policy options for meeting Water Framework Directive obligations
1.3. To make a quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of using NP surplus as a tool for decreasing diffuse water pollution at the national level
1.4. To make a quantitative assessment of the likely cost-effectiveness of a diffuse pollution trading scheme
1.5. To add sediment to the diffuse pollution inventory
1.6. To construct a national-scale N and P balance for 2015, based on projected changes in agriculture.

2. To appraise the scientific advances over the last 15 years in phosphorus transfer from agricultural land within the UK, but set within the context of world research (Work Package 2):

3. To develop the ‘Cost-Cube’, or mitigation method-centric framework, for evaluating the relative cost-effectiveness of mitigation methods for diffuse air and water pollution from crop and livestock production (Work Package 3):
3.1. To identify and define in detail a range of representative farm types to which to apply the framework
3.2. To develop a fully parameterised model framework for baseline losses and for determining mitigation effects
3.3. To quantify the effects of mitigation methods for inclusion in the model framework
3.4. To integrate the diffuse pollution models and costs to provide a tool for cost-effectiveness analysis
3.5. To undertake validation and sensitivity analysis of the finalised framework
3.6. To test a range of scenarios for mitigating losses to air and water across a range of representative farms
3.7. To obtain peer review and feedback on the approaches

4. To assess the impacts of climate change on diffuse pollution at a range of scales (Work Package 4):
4.1. To select relevant models for simulating impacts of climate change futures on diffuse pollution from UK land-use systems at a range of spatial and temporal scales.
4.2. To define climate change futures and derive climate input data for pollutant models.
4.3. To run models using sets of land-use/climate future combinations to determine changes in emissions to water against 2006 baseline
4.4. To run models for a range of land-use adaptive responses to climate change and to key legislation and policy instruments.
4.5. To run the models to assess the effectiveness of recognised pollution mitigation strategies under future climates with regard to water quality, pollution swapping through atmospheric emissions.
4.6. To develop a new model to assess the relative importance of elevated nutrient loading, the ratio of N to P and temporal and spatial patterns of increased water temperature and reduced oxygen levels on eutrophication risk in UK freshwaters – rural rivers and lakes.
4.7. To use models to optimise land managements for minimal air and water pollution under some typical climate change futures
4.8. To provide the basis for the specification of some key validation experiments.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Module 3: Mitigation Method-Centric Framework for Evaluating Cost-Effectiveness (Farmscoper)   (3006k)
• Final Report : Module 6: Quantitative Assessment of Scenarios for Managing Trade-Off Between Economics, Environment and Media   (2453k)
• FRP - Final Report : Module 4: Climate Change Impacts   (341k)
• FRP - Final Report : Module 4: Climate Change Impacts - Summary   (151k)
• FRP - Final Report : Module 5: Mitigation Methods User Guide   (1557k)
• Final Report - Annex : Module 6: Annexe - Solutions Database and Key Tables   (3209k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2010

Cost: £1,292,237
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER), North Wyke Research
Bee Health              
Fields of Study
Water Quality