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McGonigle D.F.,7 Smith Square | Burke S.P.,British Geological Survey | Collins A.L.,Rothamsted Research | Collins A.L.,University of Southampton | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts | Year: 2014

Whilst a large body of plot and field-scale research exists on the sources, behaviour and mitigation of diffuse water pollution from agriculture, putting this evidence into a practical, context at large spatial scales to inform policy remains challenging. Understanding the behaviour of pollutants (nutrients, sediment, microbes and pesticides) and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies over whole catchments and long timeframes requires new, interdisciplinary approaches to organise and undertake research. This paper provides an introduction to the demonstration test catchments (DTC) programme, which was established in 2009 to gather empirical evidence on the cost-effectiveness of combinations of diffuse pollution mitigation measures at catchment scales. DTC firstly provides a physical platform of instrumented study catchments in which approaches for the mitigation of diffuse agricultural water pollution can be experimentally tested and iteratively improved. Secondly, it has established national and local knowledge exchange networks between researchers and stakeholders through which research has been co-designed. These have provided a vehicle to disseminate emerging findings to inform policy and land management practice. The role of DTC is that of an outdoor laboratory to develop knowledge and approaches that can be applied in less well studied locations. The research platform approach developed through DTC has brought together disparate research groups from different disciplines and institutions through nationally coordinated activities. It offers a model that can be adopted to organise research on other complex, interdisciplinary problems to inform policy and operational decision-making. This journal is © the Partner Organisations 2014.

McGonigle D.F.,7 Smith Square | Harris R.C.,7 Smith Square | McCamphill C.,7 Smith Square | McCamphill C.,UK Environment Agency | And 5 more authors.
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2012

This paper, written from the perspective of individuals working at the interface of science and policy in four UK government organisations, sets out the major research questions that need to be addressed to inform the development and implementation of policy on agricultural diffuse water pollution. It outlines opportunities in the policy-making process for utilising research outputs and the context in which policy-makers are able to use emerging findings to inform decisions. It also explores policy approaches to tackle diffuse pollution, discussing when decisions are made, by whom, and how science can contribute. In doing this, the paper finally explores ways in which better knowledge exchange between researchers and the users of scientific information could improve the impact of research and the robustness of future policy development. In addition to policy-makers and operational staff in environmental agencies, new audiences for research on diffuse water pollution are emerging from the development of "bottom-up" integrated catchment management initiatives. Those working at the interface of science and policy need to take account of current scientific knowledge in combination with an understanding of policy direction and processes to plan high impact strategic research in anticipation of future windows of opportunity to influence decision making. © 2012.

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