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MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling

Agricultural mitigation measures and the value of water quality improvements

Alternative title: Tiltak i landbruket og verdien av forbedret vannkvalitet

Awarded: NOK 14.9 mill.

Access to clean water is a necessity for all living organisms. Without water, it is also not possible to produce food. In Norway, agriculture is one of the biggest sources of water pollution. This project aims to identify suitable measures in agriculture to reduce and/or prevent pollution of waterways that will be most beneficial to society in terms of food production, clean water, and other ecosystem services. The project will take into account potential synergies and conflicts with existing water ecosystems, agricultural production, water pollution, and climate emissions. Moreover, "winners" and "losers" in the implementation of various measures will be identified to provide relevant information to farmers, politicians, bureaucrats, and other stakeholders to help them in their decision-making. This is an area of research in great need of interdisciplinary approach. Hence, the project consists of experts in hydrology, plant science, soil science, ecology, social geography, agricultural economics, and economics.

Water is essential for life. Producing of food is also impossible without water. Due to its mobility, however, water can transport pollution far from its origin, changing the landscape and the ecosystems on the way. Agriculture is one of the main sources of water pollution in Norway, and an important contributor to GHG emissions. In food production, manure and fertilizer are used as inputs. If policymakers and planners are to design cost-effective measures to prevent pollution from agricultural production, they need to know the status of the ecosystems in focus, and the drivers and pressure that lead to GHG emissions and bad water quality. Further they need to know the impact of the water quality on the health of humans and the ecosystems. In this project we will start looking at farmers behavior and their implementation of mitigation measures. Mitigation measures meant to improve water quality have additional effect on recreation, biodiversity, landscape and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). All these effects are of benefit to society. The project aims at evaluating all effects of mitigation measures on water retention and water quality and, in a more intergraded way, their benefit for society. Furthermore, in the future, changes towards a greener economy and with climate change will influence these benefits for society and the project will evaluate the effect of different future climate and development scenarios.

Funding scheme:

MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling