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Land use for England and Wales: evaluation of management options to support 'good ecological status' in surface freshwaters

By P.J. Johnes, R. Foy, D. Butterfield and P.M. Haygarth


This paper analyses historic records of agricultural land use and management for England and Wales from 1931 and 1991 and uses export coefficient modelling to hindcast the impact of these practices on the rates of diffuse nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) export to water bodies for each of the major geo-climatic regions of England and Wales. Key trends indicate the importance of animal agriculture as a contributor to the total diffuse agricultural nutrient loading on waters, and the need to bring these sources under control if conditions suitable for sustaining 'Good Ecological Status' under the Water Framework Directive are to be generated. The analysis highlights the importance of measuring changes in nutrient loading in relation to the catchment-specific baseline state for different water bodies. The approach is also used to forecast the likely impact of broad regional scale scenarios on nutrient export to waters and highlights the need to take sensitive land out of production, introduce ceilings on fertilizer use and stocking densities, and controls on agricultural practice in higher risk areas where intensive agriculture is combined with a low intrinsic nutrient retention capacity, although the uncertainties associated with the modelling applied at this scale should be taken into account in the interpretation of model output. The paper advocates the need for a two-tiered approach to nutrient management, combining broad regional policies with targeted management in high risk areas at the catchment and farm scale

Year: 2007
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