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Sustainable Nutrient Management and Water Resource Protection in UK and Chinese Agro-Ecosystems - SCF0302

Description
Nutrient management in agro-ecosystems faces potential scarcity of new resources (for phosphorus, P) and growing calls to mitigate the environmental impacts associated with nutrient losses from agricultural land (for nitrogen, N, and P). Such losses are a major constituent of diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA), and can pose significant threats to natural ecosystems and to human health via public water supply. These challenges are set within the broader context of meeting a growing global demand for food, of responding to the challenges of climate change, and of maintaining economically viable farm businesses. Addressing these nutrient management and water resource protection challenges requires both scientific knowledge and the means to effect change. For the former, understanding is needed of the stocks and the fluxes of nutrients at spatial scales that range from farm to globe. This understanding is important because it provides the basis for identifying imbalances in nutrient management within agro-ecosystems that represent opportunities for more sustainable management, and for evaluating alternative management approaches. In turn, achieving change will require new interventions through practice and policy, supported by revised delivery arrangements that enable these interventions to be implemented and supported within local jurisdictions.
With the objective of achieving more sustainable management of N and P in agro-ecosystems, this proposal will develop and exchange innovation in the fields of knowledge, practice, policy and governance. Whilst the project will retain a macro, national-scale element, we will focus specific activities on regional examples that capture key farming systems within both the UK and China. These activities include:
1. The development of a new ‘footprint’ approach to assess the stocks and fluxes of nutrients within examples of key agro-ecosystems in the UK and China.
2. An assessment of known and developing mitigation practices with the potential to optimise nutrient use within agro-ecosystems and to minimise export of nutrients from agro-ecosystems to connected ecosystems. This will include an assessment of the cost-effectiveness, impacts on farm businesses and wider costs, benefits and externalities (and their incidence) associated with these practices.
3. A review of existing policy frameworks across the UK and EU, and suggestions regarding opportunities for new or revised policies in China and the EU respectively, that respond to imbalances in the nutrient footprints identified under 1., and significant nutrient export pathways and mitigation opportunities identified under 2.
4. An analysis of the existing evidence base related to nutrient footprints and the effectiveness of current policy and practice, and identification of future evidence requirements to support more sustainable nutrient management.
5. An assessment in the UK and in China of current means and implementation arrangements for delivering more sustainable nutrient management and water resource protection in agro-ecosystems, and of constraints to this. Local researchers identify this as a particularly important set of issues needing further study in the context of DWPA management in China.
6. An assessment of the potential for revised and locally-based capacity and implementation arrangements, capable of assessing needs and adapting and delivering new interventions with local ‘ownership’ and support.
7. The use of existing networking tools to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange between partners, including a potential ‘joint field laboratory’ programme between the Defra Demonstration Test Catchments (DTC) programme in the UK and comparable platforms in China.



Objective
2.2 Objectives

1. To complete the development and application of a new framework based on the concept of nutrient ‘footprints’ to quantify the stocks and fluxes of nutrients within key agro-ecosystems in China and the UK.
2. To complete an assessment of known and developing mitigation practices with the potential to optimise nutrient use within agro-ecosystems and to minimise export of nutrients from agro-ecosystems to connected ecosystems.
3. To complete a review of existing policy frameworks across the UK and EU, and suggestions regarding opportunities for new or revised policies in China and the EU respectively, that respond to imbalances in the nutrient footprints identified under 1., and significant nutrient export pathways and mitigation opportunities identified under 2.
4. To complete an analysis of the existing evidence base related to nutrient ‘footprints’ and the effectiveness of current policy and practice, and identification of future evidence requirements to support more sustainable nutrient management.
5. To complete an assessment in the UK and in China of current means and implementation arrangements for delivering more sustainable nutrient management and water resource protection in agro-ecosystems, and of constraints to this.
6. To complete an assessment of the potential for revised and locally-based capacity and implementation arrangements, capable of assessing needs and adapting and delivering new interventions with local ‘ownership’ and support.
7. To make use of existing networking tools to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange between partners, including a potential ‘joint field laboratory’ programme between the Defra Demonstration Test Catchments (DTC) programme in the UK and comparable platforms in China.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2016

Cost: £760,797
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Lancaster University , School of Oriental and African Studies
Keywords
Nutrients              
Water Resources