2021-2021: Nitrate Accounting Tool For the Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme
The National Farmers Union (NFU) are establishing a farmer-led solution to mitigate high nitrate losses from agriculture entering Poole Harbour. Poole Harbour is of international importance for its wildlife however high nitrate and phosphate levels are leading to increased algal production in areas of the harbour and damaging valuable habitats. There are many approaches that can be used to help reduce nitrate loses and one which has proved successful is the use of nutrient budgeting also known as nutrient accounting. This technique compares the quantities of nutrients entering the farm system with those within farm outputs to provide an assessment of likely environmental losses. This approach can provide an early indication of potential problems arising from a nutrient surplus or deficit and can help farmers to better understand the factors influencing the farm nutrient status. Whilst very simple estimates can be done without sophisticated software this approach tends not to be sufficiently accurate nor responsive to changes in practices and so generally a software tool is utilised. Over the last couple of decades a variety of nutrient accounting tools have been developed each with its own characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, this project, working with various end user groups, will evaluate various tools to identify that which best meets end use requirements.
Prof. Kathy Lewis