Agricultural Catchments: Evaluating Policies and Monitoring Adaptive Management
Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:55 PM
Agricultural management in river catchments must combine the objectives of economic profit and environmental stewardship and, in many countries, mitigate the decline of water quality and/or maintain high water quality. Achieving these objectives is, amongst other activities, in the remit of ‘sustainable intensification’. Of concern is the efficient use of crop nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen, and minimising or offsetting the effects of transfers from land to water – corner-stone requirements of many agri-environmental regulations. This requires a robust monitoring programme that can audit the stages of nutrient inputs and outputs in river catchments and indicate where the likely points of successful policy interventions can be observed – or confounded. In this paper, a catchment, or watershed, experimental design and results are described for monitoring the nutrient transfer continuum in the Irish agricultural landscape against the backdrop of the European Union Nitrates and Water Framework Directives. This Agricultural Catchments Programme experimental design also serves to indicate water quality pressure-points that may be catchment specific as agricultural activities intensify to adapt to national efforts to build important parts of the post-recession economy.