Agriculture and water quality ‐ Future challenges for monitoring

Time: 19‐21 March, 2014
Place: Solastranden Beach, Stavanger, Norway

Monitoring of water quality in agricultural areas constitutes an important part of the evaluation of environmental effects of agricultural production. Monitoring is carried out by different methods, using different technologies and for different purposes. In the Nordic‐Baltic countries, agricultural catchment monitoring has been carried out by similar methods during recent decades. There is a need to evaluate the methods and look at future possibilities and challenges. The main objective of NJF seminar 469 was to exchange knowledge and to discuss topics related to the monitoring of water quality in agricultural areas.

The 30 presentations gave a broad view on monitoring of water quality in agricultural areas with the focus on the Nordic‐Baltic region. Presentations were made on monitoring methods, trend analyses, modelling, uncertainty and effect of mitigation methods and agricultural production. They were divided into four main sessions. The session on Wednesday afternoon focused on analysis of long-term trends and on new technology in monitoring. On Thursday morning, the session focused on uncertainty and modelling and later on best management practices. On Friday morning, the topics were related to the future challenges and monitoring of other sources in the agricultural landscape.

Each session was introduced by a keynote lecture: 1) A new approach to analysis of long‐term monitoring data, with examples from U.S. agricultural watersheds, by Robert Hirsch, USGS, USA; 2) Uncertainties ‐ how much do we tolerate?, by Brian Kronvang, Århus University, Denmark; 3) Monitoring on‐farm BMP effectiveness for outreach and compliance, by Andrew Sharpley, University of Arkansas, US; and 4) Monitoring ‐ future challenges, by Nils Vagstad, Bioforsk, Norway.

On the excursion on Thursday afternoon, we visited two agricultural monitoring catchments included in the Norwegian Agricultural Environmental Monitoring Programme (JOVA). All land on the south‐west coast of Norway is dominated by grassland and intensive livestock production, including the Skas‐Heigre and Time catchments, which we visited. In the past the Skas‐Heigre catchment included a lake, but now it has a dam at the outlet to remove the drainage water. Furthermore, we saw some constructed wetlands, which are established in this area to reduce nutrient contributions from agricultural areas. At Særheim, a monitoring site at the plot scale was presented.

Highlights and future challenges for monitoring were discussed at the end of the seminar. The discussion included the topics: Cost‐effectiveness of monitoring methods; calibration of monitoring methods between countries; high resolution data to understand processes; the need for long-term data to evaluate effects of mitigation methods; the importance of exchanges of data between countries; identifying nutrient losses in reference conditions; validation of models for lower uncertainty; the importance of combining monitoring and modelling; and, last but not least, the importance of communication of results to the public.

The seminar was held at the Sola Strand Hotel at the south‐western coast of Norway, right on the beach. Over 50 participants from Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, England, Ireland, USA and the Netherlands signed up for the seminar. The presentations were short and a small break after every three presentations gave room for good discussions related to the presentations. Presentations were given on Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday and Friday morning. The posters were presented orally on Wednesday evening for 1‐2 minutes followed by in‐depth discussions by the dedicated participants.

Following the seminar, a Special Issue of Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, section B, Plant and Soil, edited by Brian Kronvang, will be published with selected papers from the seminar presentations.

Organising committee

  • Marianne Bechmann, Bioforsk, Norway
  • Gitte B. Mathiesen, Århus University, Denmark
  • Katri Rankinen, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland
  • Arvo Iital, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
  • Helena Aronsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
  • Geir Paulsen, Bioforsk, Norway
  • Marit Hauken, Bioforsk, and Geir Paulsen (excursion organisers)
  • Marte Lund Edvardsen, Bioforsk (secretary)