Published: 17 March 2014 at 12:07
Anglia Ruskin academic involved in project to assess dangers of nutrient runoff
Warmer, wetter winters could lower the quality of our rivers, according to warnings from environmental scientists.
As farmers try to cope with waterlogged soil following one of the wettest Januarys on record a team of researchers, including Dr Bob Evans of Anglia Ruskin University, has begun work on a new project to better understand nutrient runoff from agricultural land and work out how it affects the quality of our rivers.
The Nutrients in Catchments to 2050 project – http://nutcat2050.org.uk/ – involves researchers at Lancaster University, the UK Met Office Hadley Centre, Bangor University and Liverpool University and has associated partners at the James Hutton Institute, University of East Anglia, Rothamsted Research and Anglia Ruskin University.
Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen are essential for plant and animal growth, but too many nutrients cause excessive plant growth and algal blooms in rivers and lakes. These suffocate fish and other organisms and require costly remediation by water companies.
Fertilisers and manures washed off in storms are a major source of nutrients, with more than 60% of the nitrogen and 25% of the phosphorus in our rivers coming from agriculture.
Professor Phil Haygarth, of the Lancaster Environment Centre, is leading the three-year Natural Environment Research Council-funded study. He said:
Dr Evans, from Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute, said: