water@leeds blog

An interdisciplinary approach to tackling major water issues

water@leeds visit: Norwegian STITA Tour

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A party of over 30 visitors from Norway recently came to the University of Leeds to meet with water@leeds staff and discuss water management in agriculture.

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The visitors arrived as part of a tour around farms in the North of England organised by STITA, a company that works closely with the agricultural community across the globe. Dr Paul Kay provided a seminar on countryside stewardship and its role in protecting water sources, rural diffuse pollution and other water issues associated with agriculture. During the seminar, Kay provided examples of work that the water@leeds team have been involved in, including comparing the different issues facing upland farming and lowland, largely arable agriculture, and work with Yorkshire Water to provide advice to farmers in drinking water catchments.

During the question and answers session, it became apparent that there are a great deal of similarities between the UK and Norway in relation to water management in agriculture. In particular, both countries face similar issues associated with Water Framework Directive (WFD) implementation, invasive species and diffuse pollution issues.

Svein Skøien, who was amongst the visitors to the university, has previously worked with the University of Leeds to help set up a PESERA (Pan European Soil Erosion Risk Assessment) application with Bioforsk/NIBIO in Norway. Sven stated that “We are at a high risk of soil erosion and have been looking for a way to update the system…Soil erosion effects the environment as it brings nutrients and sediments into the lake and causes a loss of soil for the farmers… This will affect food production in the long term, and it has been a priority to avoid soil erosion”. PESERA has sought to address this problem, and has created a model which is currently being used by the Norwegian government, influencing how it delivers millions in farm payments across the country to help reduce soil erosion and nutrient pollution of water courses.

The visitors also met with Cheney Fellow Dr Nikolai Friberg who is visiting from NIVA in Norway and Dr Brian Irvine who is a research fellow at the University of Leeds and part of the PESERA team.

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written by Rosie Samuel

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