Human activities have greatly accelerated the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycles, with excess N and P leaching into surface and groundwaters, causing problems of eutrophication, aquatic toxicity and drinking water contamination. Protecting water quality in the face of a growing population and the corresponding demands on agriculture is critical to ensuring both water and food security for generations to come.
Widespread nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertiliser use threatens water quality and aquatic ecosystems. Agricultural best management practices (BMPs) have been implemented in an attempt to improve water quality, but time lags between BMP implementation and measurable water quality benefits are frequently observed. One reason is the slow release of N and P from legacy nutrient stores that accumulated in the landscape over decades of fertiliser application.
LEAP aims to gain a predictive understanding of the release of nutrients over time and how they move and transform within water systems. The project is going to develop a unified framework that incorporates agricultural legacies and time lags into adaptive management strategies to protect water resources under changing climate and land use.
Fertiliser use in agriculture has become a common practice, resulting in the accumulation of legacy stores of nitrogen and phosphorus in the landscape over time. These legacy stores continue to impact water quality for decades. The Legacies of Agricultural Pollutants (LEAP) project addresses the challenge of nutrient legacies in maintaining clean water in the short and long term.
Nutrient budgets and legacy maps have been developed to gain a spatial understanding of legacy nutrient accumulation and risk of loss, across watersheds in Canada, Denmark, Sweden, and Portugal. LEAP researchers have used novel modelling approaches to model watershed nutrient trajectories, including historical changes in legacy nutrient stores. This approach has been used in the Grand River watershed (Canada) and Norrström drainage basin (Sweden).
To compliment modelling of legacy nutrient trajectories, LEAP has also undertaken socio-economic research to aid in decision-making. Through focus groups and surveys, cost benefit analyses and a hydro-economic model have been developed. LEAP has undertaken an innovative approach to link legacy nutrient trajectories with socio-economic models across watersheds to develop a novel roadmap that identifies the most cost-effective nutrient reduction strategies to improve water quality.
*At the time of the proposal. Please consider this data as an accurate estimate; it may vary during the project’s lifespan.
Total costs include in kind contribution by grant holders and can therefore be higher than the total requested funding.