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Demonstration Test Catchments: Catchment scale testing of measures to mitigate diffuse agricultural pollution on the Hampshire Avon - WQ0211

Description
SEE PROJECT WQ0210 FOR DTC PHASE 1 REPORTS

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) has an overall objective to achieve 'good ecological status' in all surface waters by 2015. In response, Defra and the EA have funded or undertaken analyses to assess the 'gap' between current or future projected pollutant pressures and targets for catchment compliance, focusing upon the contributions from a number of key sources including the agricultural sector. Alongside such work, research has been commissioned to summarise practical mitigation options available to farmers in the so-called Defra User Manual-All.

Whereas research over the past 10-15 years has provided much improved insight into the key sources, transfers and delivery pathways of individual pollutants and the scope for mitigating pressures at plot or field scale, translating this evidence base to larger spatial scales remains problematic. It is therefore highly challenging to upscale the outputs of existing experimental work to catchment scale which is now seen as the fundamental unit for integrated environmental, social and economic management. New coordinated research is required to assemble the evidence base on the potential for reducing pollutant pressures at sub-catchment and catchment scales as a means of informing the development of policies to meet WFD targets and to increase stakeholder confidence that on-farm measures can be used to improve water quality status.

This need is being addressed through the Demonstration Test Catchments (DTC) project (a joint Defra, EA and WAG initiative) which will establish instrumented experimental and monitoring platforms in the Hampshire Avon, Wensum and Eden catchments in England. Additional catchments (e.g. in Wales) will be incorporated as the project evolves. Research under the DTC project is expected to be collaborative between private and public organisations with a range of key skillsets, knowledge and experience pertinent to meeting the wider principal objectives.

This research proposal aims to provide essential support to the DTC project in assembling empirical water quality evidence to test the hypothesis that it is possible to reduce, cost effectively, the impact of agricultural diffuse water pollution (DWPA) on ecological function while maintaining food security through the implementation of multiple on-farm measures. The proposal seeks to deliver the above by aligning with the EA to:
a) develop experimental design for supporting a linked intervention, monitoring and modelling strategy for priority pollutants in the Hampshire Avon DTC catchment.
b) undertake experimental planning comprising (i) compilation of existing evidence, (ii) target sub-catchment selection, (iii) development of a robust conceptual model for the designated sub-catchments, (iv) characterisation of baseline farm practices in each designated sub-catchment, and (v) negotiation of access to farms and monitoring sites.
c) implement a monitoring approach at sub-catchment scale in the Hampshire Avon DTC catchment by (i) sourcing, installing and testing multi-pollutant monitoring equipment, (ii) undertaking monitoring activities within the designated sub-catchments as agreed by the DTC RAG, and (iii) maintaining the monitoring equipment in a state appropriate for its purpose.
d) plan experimental measures appropriate to local pollutant pressures in the Hampshire Avon DTC catchment by (i) interpreting cost-curve analyses for optimal sets of mitigation measures, and (ii) interpreting farmer acceptability.
e) develop an appropriate data infrastructure for ensuring compatibility with the DTC Sensor web network and the DTC data portal.
f) coordinate catchment scale knowledge transfer activities including (i) the establishment of a catchment stakeholder group, (ii) working with the EA to demonstrate measures to the farming community in the wider catchment, (iii) working with the DTC Knowledge and Data Management team and the NERC VO to make data available to the research community, and (iv) working with Defra and EA policy teams to develop the evidence base for mitigation instruments.
g) ensure coordination, best practice and observance of relevant standards between the three DTC consortia by (i) coordinating ongoing and future research activities, and (ii) collaborating with the wider DTC consortia.

The proposed consortium for delivering the above comprises ADAS, CEH, North Wyke Research, Universities of Bristol, Reading, Exeter, Kingston, QMUL, Entec, Wessex Water and BGS. For the wider components of the DTC project (implementation of measures, knowledge exchange and transfer, development of infrastructure for data management and dissemination and predictive modelling and DSS) the consortium also includes HR Wallingford and Brook Lyndhurst.
Objective
7. (b) Objectives

1. To provide support to the DTC project in assembling empirical water quality evidence to test the hypothesis that it is possible to reduce, cost effectively, the impact of agricultural diffuse water pollution (DWPA) on ecological function while maintaining food security through the implementation of multiple on-farm measures. To achieve this by:

1.1 Aligning with the EA to develop experimental design for supporting a linked intervention, monitoring and modelling strategy for priority pollutants in the Hampshire Avon DTC.
1.2 Aligning with the EA to undertake experimental planning comprising (i) compilation of existing evidence, (ii) target sub-catchment selection, (iii) development of a robust conceptual model for the designated sub-catchments, (iv) characterisation of baseline farm practices in each designated sub-catchment, and (v) negotiation of access to farms and monitoring sites.
1.3 Aligning with the EA to implement a monitoring approach at sub-catchment scale in the Hampshire Avon DTC by (i) sourcing, installing and testing multi-pollutant monitoring equipment, (ii) undertaking monitoring activities within the designated sub-catchments as agreed by the DTC RAG, and (iii) maintaining the monitoring equipment in a state appropriate for its purpose.
1.4 Aligning with the EA to plan experimental measures appropriate to local pollutant pressures in the Hampshire Avon DTC by (i) undertaking cost-curve analyses for optimal sets of mitigation measures, and (ii) conducting farmer acceptability surveys.
1.5 Aligning with the EA to develop an appropriate data infrastructure for ensuring compatibility with the DTC Sensor web network and the DTC data portal.
1.6 Aligning with the EA to coordinate catchment scale knowledge transfer activities including (i) the establishment of a catchment stakeholder group, (ii) working with the EA to demonstrate measures to the farming community in the wider catchment, (iii) working with the DTC Knowledge and Data Management team and the NERC VO to make data available to the research community, and (iv) working with Defra and EA policy teams to develop the evidence base for mitigation instruments.
1.7 Aligning with the EA to ensure coordination, best practice and observance of relevant standards between the three DTC consortia; (i) coordinating ongoing and future research activities, and (ii) collaborating with the wider DTC consortia.

Project Documents
• ROAME Document : WQ01   (200k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2009

To: 2015

Cost: £2,843,736
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Bristol, The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, University - Reading, Queen Mary & Westfield College, UL, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Rothamsted Research (BBSRC), University of Exeter, ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
catchment              
Diffuse Pollution              
Environmental Protection              
Farming              
Nitrates              
Phosphates              
Pollution              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Water Pollution              
Water Quality