water@leeds blog

An interdisciplinary approach to tackling major water issues


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water@leeds visit: Norwegian STITA Tour

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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Upland Hydrology Group at the CLA Game Fair!

Post by Viki Hirst, Upland Hydrology Group/water@leeds

All the planning paid off! We had a great weekend at the CLA’s Game Fair last weekend (31st July-2nd August 2015) at Harewood House.

Game Fair (Viki Hirst)

The Upland Hydrology Group stand

The Upland Hydrology Group wanted a stall at this year’s game fair to engage with landowners, farmers, gamekeepers and the general public to raise awareness of the importance of our uplands and the careful management needed to achieve the many benefits they provide us.

Game Fair (Viki Hirst)

Inside the Upland Hydrology Group stand

Over the three days we estimate we had over 500 visitors, interested in talking about management of the uplands. The rewards of beer, Allendale’s Old Sphagnum, for completing the quiz went down well as did our displays, which included a 1m core of peat dating back to AD800.

Game Fair (Viki Hirst)

One of the displays on the stand

We had different species of Sphagnum moss and a turf of heather on display, along with upland plants and Beadamoss (http://www.beadamoss.co.uk/page8.html) used in restoration projects kindly supplied by Micro Propagation Services (http://micropropagation-services.co.uk/page2.html). Also invertebrates from peatland pools included impressive dragon-fly larvae.

Quotes from visitors over the weekend :-
• When eyeing up the heather turf one small girl, probably aged around 4 said “ is that heather”, “yes” I replied. “ooh good, have you got a lighter so I can set fire to it?”…………..!
• Another happy customer told us we had the best and most informative stand on the whole show, with the loveliest of people. (She had just spent the last hour looking at guns with her husband……).

The stall was expertly manned by our members from the Environment Agency, Moors For the Future, University of Leeds, Countryside Training, and North Pennine Moors AONB – all of whom have gained many contacts.

Now we need to plan for our conference in January! So watch this space…