Marianne Bechmann

Research Professor

(+47) 412 19 506
marianne.bechmann@nibio.no

Place
Ås F20

Visiting address
Fredrik A. Dahls vei 20, 1430 Ås

Biography

Agricultural effects on water quality. Nutrient losses from agriculture and effects of mitigation measures to reduce nutrient losses. Monitoring of diffuse pollution from small agricultural catchments. Identification of critical source areas. Implementation of mitigation strategies. Estimation of cost-effectiveness of mitigation measures.

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Abstract

Winter manure application elevates nutrient losses and impairment of water quality as compared to manure applications in other seasons. In conjunction with reviewing global distribution of animal densities, we reviewed worldwide mandatory regulations and voluntary guidelines on efforts to reduce off-site nutrient losses associated with winter manure applications. Most of the developed countries implement regulations or guidelines to restrict winter manure application, which range from a regulative ban to guidelines based upon weather and field management conditions. In contrast, developing countries lack such official directives, despite an increasing animal production industry and concern over water quality. An analysis of five case studies reveals that directives are derived from a common rationale to reduce off-site manure nutrient losses, but they are also affected by local socioeconomic and biophysical considerations. Successful programs combine site-specific management strategies along with expansion of manure storage to offer farmers greater flexibility in winter manure management.

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Abstract

Achieving an operational compromise between spatial coverage and temporal resolution in national scale river water quality monitoring is a major challenge for regulatory authorities, particularly where chemical concentrations are hydrologically dependent. The efficacy of flow-weighted composite sampling (FWCS) approaches for total phosphorus (TP) sampling (n = 26–52 analysed samples per year), previously applied in monitoring programmes in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and which account for low to high flow discharges, was assessed by repeated simulated sampling on high resolution TP data. These data were collected in three research catchments in Ireland over the period 2010–13 covering a base-flow index range of 0.38 to 0.69. Comparisons of load estimates were also made with discrete (set time interval) daily and sub-daily sampling approaches (n = 365 to >1200 analysed samples per year). For all years and all sites a proxy of the Norwegian sampling approach, which is based on re-forecasting discharge for each 2-week deployment, proved most stable (median TP load estimates of 87–98%). Danish and Swedish approaches, using long-term flow records to set a flow constant, were only slightly less effective (median load estimates of 64–102% and 80–96%, respectively). Though TP load estimates over repeated iterations were more accurate using the discrete approaches, particularly the 24/7 approach (one sample every 7 h in a 24 bottle sampler - median % load estimates of 93–100%), composite load estimates were more stable, due to the integration of multiple small samples (n = 100–588) over a deployment.

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In this paper, we outline several recent insights for the priorities and challenges for future research for reducing phosphorus (P) based water eutrophication in the agricultural landscapes of Northwest Europe.We highlight that new research efforts best be focused on headwater catchments as they are a key influence on the initial chemistry of the larger river catchments, and here many management interventions are most effectively made. We emphasize the lack of understanding on how climate change will impact on P losses from agricultural landscapes. Particularly, the capability to disentangle current and future trends in P fluxes, due to climate change itself, from climate driven changes in agricultural management practices and P inputs. Knowing that, future climatic change trajectories for Western Europe will accelerate the release of the most bioavailable soil P. We stress the ambiguities created by the large varieties of sources and storage/transfer processes involved in P emissions in landscapes and the need to develop specific data treatment methods or tracers able to circumvent them, thereby helping catchment managers to identify the ultimate P sources that most contribute to diffuse P emissions. We point out that soil and aqueous P exist not only in various chemical forms, but also in range of less considered physical forms e.g., dissolved, nanoparticulate, colloidal and other particulates, all affected differently by climate as well as other environmental factors, and require bespoke mitigation measures. We support increased high resolution monitoring of headwater catchments, to not only help verify the effectiveness of catchments mitigation strategies, but also add data to further develop new water quality models (e.g., those include Fe-P interactions) which can deal with climate and land use change effects within an uncertainty framework. We finally conclude that there is a crucial need for more integrative research efforts to deal with our incomplete understanding of the mechanisms and processes associated with the identification of critical source areas, P mobilization, delivery and biogeochemical processing, as otherwise even highintensity and high-resolution research efforts will only reveal an incomplete picture of the full global impact of the terrestrial derived P on downstream aquatic and marine ecosystems.

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Abstract

Management of agricultural diffuse pollution to water remains a challenge and is influenced by the complex interactions of rainfall-runoff pathways, soil and nutrient management, agricultural landscape heterogeneity and biogeochemical cycling in receiving water bodies. Amplified cycles of weather can also influence nutrient loss to water although they are less considered in policy reviews. Here, we present the development of climate-chemical indicators of diffuse pollution in highly monitored catchments in Western Europe. Specifically, we investigated the influences and relationships between weather processes amplified by the North Atlantic Oscillation during a sharp upward trend (2010– 2016) and the patterns of diffuse nitrate and phosphorus pollution in rivers. On an annual scale, we found correlations between local catchment-scale nutrient concentrations in rivers and the influence of larger, oceanic-scale climate patterns defined by the intensity of the North Atlantic Oscillation. These influences were catchment-specific showing positive, negative or no correlation according to a typology. Upward trends in these decadal oscillations may override positive benefits of local management in some years or indicate greater benefits in other years. Developing integrated climatechemical indicators into catchment monitoring indicators will provide a new and important contribution to water quality management objectives.

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Abstract

Recent technological breakthroughs of optical sensors and analysers have enabled matching the water quality measurement interval to the time scales of stream flow changes and led to an improved understanding of spatially and temporally heterogeneous sources and delivery pathways for many solutes and particulates. This new ability to match the chemograph with the hydrograph has promoted renewed interest in the concentration-discharge (c-q) relationship and its value in characterizing catchment storage, time lags and legacy effects for both weathering products and anthropogenic pollutants. In this paper we evaluated the stream c-q relationships for a number of water quality determinands (phosphorus, suspended sediments, nitrogen) in intensively managed agricultural catchments based on both high-frequency (sub-hourly) and long-term low-frequency (fortnightly-monthly) routine monitoring data. We used resampled high-frequency data to test the uncertainty in water quality parameters (e.g. mean, 95th percentile and load) derived from low-frequency sub-datasets. We showed that the uncertainty in water quality parameters increases with reduced sampling frequency as a function of the c-q slope. We also showed that different sources and delivery pathways control c-q relationship for different solutes and particulates. Secondly, we evaluated the variation in c-q slopes derived from the long-term low-frequency data for different determinands and catchments and showed strong chemostatic behaviour for phosphorus and nitrogen due to saturation and agricultural legacy effects. The c-q slope analysis can provide an effective tool to evaluate the current monitoring networks and the effectiveness of water management interventions. This research highlights how improved understanding of solute and particulate dynamics obtained with optical sensors and analysers can be used to understand patterns in long-term water quality time series, reduce the uncertainty in the monitoring data and to manage eutrophication in agricultural catchments.

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Identifying and ranking nutrient loss risk areas are important steps towards integrated catchment management. This study aimed to apply the P index model at the Posses catchment, south of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. We applied the P index for the current land use at the Posses catchment and for two hypothetical scenarios: scenario 1, in which P fertilizer was applied to all land uses, except for native forests; and scenario 2, which considered the use of P fertilizer as in scenario 1, and that the Environmental Protection Areas referring to the riparian forests and springs were totally restored. Considering current land use, almost the whole catchment area (91.4%) displayed a low P loss risk. The highest P index was associated to croplands and eucalyptus plantations. Regarding scenario 1, areas under pasture fell into the low (15.1%), medium (45.5%), high (27.1%) and very high (12.3%) P index categories. Environmental Protection Areas on scenario 2 decreased the P loss risk from the scenario 1 in 37.6%. Hence, the model outputs indicate that the reforestation of buffer zones can decrease P loss risk in the case increasing use of P fertilizer. The P index model is a potential support tool to promote judicious use of fertilizers and conservation practices at the Posses catchment.

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In this paper, we estimate the cost-effectiveness of tillage methods as a measure to reduce phosphorus loss. The study was based on real-world information on costs. Data on phosphorus loss for different soil tillage methods were modelled. The cost-effectiveness of various soil tillage methods were related to autumn ploughing. The results showed large variation in cost-effectiveness related to erosion risk. Furthermore, spring harrowing was the most cost-effective method to reduce phosphorus loss, followed by autumn harrowing and spring ploughing in spring cereals. Implementation of changed tillage methods showed lower costs for spring cereals compared to winter wheat. The differences in costs between areas were most evident for spring tillage due to differences in yields and agronomic management. Cost-effectiveness is an important criterion in selecting mitigation methods, but due to large variations in the effect of changed tillage, these should be locally adapted to the high risk areas of erosion.

Abstract

Elevated nutrient concentrations in streams in the Norwegian agricultural landscape may occur due to faecal contamination. Escherichia coli (E. coli) has been used conventionally as an indicator of this contamination; however, it does not indicate the source of faecal origin. This work describes a study undertaken for the first time in Norway on an application of specific host-associated markers for faecal source tracking of water contamination. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) on Bacteroidales host-specific markers was employed for microbial source tracking (MST) to determine the origin(s) of faecal water contamination. Four genetic markers were used: the universal AllBac (Bacteroidales) and the individual specific markers BacH (humans), BacR (ruminants) and Hor-Bac (horses). In addition, a pathogenicity test was carried out to detect the top seven Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serogroups. The ratio between each individual marker and the universal one was used to: (1) normalise the markers to the level of AllBac in faeces, (2) determine the relative abundance of each specific marker, (3) develop a contribution profile for faecal water contamination and (4) elucidate the sources of contamination by highlighting the dominant origin(s). The results of the qPCR MST analyses indicated the actual contributions of humans and animals to faecal water contamination. The pathogenicity test revealed that water samples were STEC positive at a low level, which was in proportion to the concentration of the ruminant marker. The outcomes were verified statistically by coupling the findings of major contamination sources with observations in the field regarding local land use (residential or agricultural). Furthermore, clear correlations between the human marker and E. coli counts as well as the ruminant marker and STEC quantity in faecally contaminated water were observed. The results of this study have the potential to help identify sources of pollution for targeted mitigation of nutrient losses.

Abstract

The current IPCC guidelines define an estimate for the fraction of mineral fertilizer and animal waste (manure) lost to leaching and runoff (FracLEACH). The FracLEACH default is 30 %. In Norway, 18 % has been used based on calculations made in 1998 (Vagstad et al., 1998). The main purpose of this study was to give an updated estimate of nitrogen (N) leaching in relation to the amounts of N applied in agriculture (FracLEACH). The term losses in this report include both surface and subsurface runoff. The estimates of FracLEACH presented in this report were based on data from the Agricultural Environmental monitoring program (JOVA). The JOVA-program includes catchment and field study sites representing typical situations in Norwegian agriculture with regard to production system, management, intensity, soil, landscape, region and climate. Data from plot- scale study sites confirmed the level of N leaching from the agricultural areas within the JOVA catchments. The overall FracLEACH estimated in this study was 22 % of the N applied. This average covers a variation between sites from 16 % on grassland in Valdres to 44 % in intensive vegetable, potato and cereal production areas in the southernmost part of Norway. Runoff is the most significant parameter for the difference in FracLEACH between catchments. In addition, production system and to some degree soil type are important for FracLEACH. It is thus suggested to use different FracLEACH-values for the different production systems and adjust FracLEACH according to average runoff for the region.

Abstract

Nutrient losses from agricultural catchments in Norway have been monitored since 1992 as part of the Norwegian Agricultural Environmental Monitoring Programme (JOVA). The catchments are at locations which are chosen to represent typical Norwegian agricultural systems such as the production of cereals, grass/livestock and vegetables. Losses are reported annually.

Abstract

The water quality in the western part of Lake Vansjø in south eastern Norway is classified as very poor due to excessive growth of blue green algae. It has been shown that phosphorus (P) losses are high from a subcatchment where potatoes and vegetables are grown on 25 % of the agricultural area. The water quality of the lake is of great concern because it is the drinking water reservoir of 60.000 inhabitants and an important recreation area for people living in the area. An integrated project funded by the government was started in 2008 in order to improve the water quality of the lake. Within this project, the public agricultural management, agricultural advisors, farmers and the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (Bioforsk) collaborate to attain the target of improved water quality. The farmers are encouraged to sign a contract where they will receive a financial support for covering extra costs for committing to a set of restrictions and mitigation options aiming at reduced P losses. Vegetable- and potato fields give large challenges when aiming at reduced P losses. A large part of the research activity is therefore related to possible mitigation options on these fields, e.g. effect of reduced P fertilization on yields and quality of bulb onion (Allium cepa), carrots (Daucus carota) and white cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata alba), and evaluation of catch crops as a mitigation option for reduced soil erosion from these fields. Development of constructed wetlands to include filters that adsorb P and measurement of P losses through tile drains are also included in the project.

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Abstract

In Scandinavia, high losses of soil and particulate-bound phosphorus (PP) have been shown to occur from tine-cultivated and mouldboard-ploughed soils in clay soil areas, especially in relatively warm, wet winters. Omitting primary tillage (not ploughing)in autumn and continuous crop cover are generally used to control soil erosion. In Norway, ploughing and shallow cultivation of sloping fields in spring instead of ploughing in autumn has been shown to reduce particle transport by up to 89% on soils with high erodibility. Particle erosion from clay soils can be reduced by 79% by direct drilling in spring compared with autumn ploughing. Hence, field experiments in Scandinavia on ploughless tillage of clay loams and clay soils compared with conventional ploughing in autumn usually show reductions in total P losses of 10-80%, via both surface runoff and subsurface runoff (lateral movements to drains). However, the effects of not ploughing during autumn on losses of dissolved reactive P (DRP) are frequently negative, since the proportion of DRP losses without ploughing compared conventional ploughing has increased up to fourfold in field experiment. In a comprehensive Norwegian field experiment at a site with high erosion risk the proportion of DRP compared to total P has increased twice in water after direct drilling compared to ploughing before winter wheat. Therefore erosion control measures should be further evaluated for fields with a low erosion risk since reduction in PP losses may be low and DRP losses still high. Ploughless tillage systems have potential side-effects, including an increased need for pesticides to control weeds (e.g. Elytrigia repens (L.) Desv. ex Nevski) and plant diseases (e.g. Fusarium spp.) harboured by crop residues on the soil surface. Overall, soil tillage systems should be appraised for their positive and negative environmental effects before they are widely used for all conditions of soil, management practices, climate and landscape.

Abstract

This report gives an overview of some characteristics of the Vansjø-Hobøl (Morsa) catchment in Southern Norway. The catchment is one of the most studied catchments in Norway in terms of water quality, partly because it has been a pilot project for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), partly because eutrophication and harmful algal blooms have been a problem in the latter years. Information from the catchment has until now been scattered in several different papers and reports, and most of these have been written in Norwegian.