Sources of Pollution: References

The following provides a reference library of selected publications relevant to ‘Sources of Pollution’. 




Agriculture and eutrophication of freshwaters: a review of control measures


Ladapo H.L and Aminu F.O. (2017)

Journal of Research in Forestry, Wildlife & Environment Vol. 9(1) March, 2017



Argues that further efforts must be made toward reducing the P loss from agricultural soil into waters to the minimum levels.


Ammonia in the UK


This document explains why ammonia emissions from farming are causing concern, summarizes the findings of research into the sources and effects of ammonia emissions on the environment, and describes studies to identify and develop practical and cost-effective ways of reducing Ammonia emissions from farming.  Defra 2002 91 pages, 1.03MB. A hard copy of the document is available from Defra’s Publications.



Application of the FARMSCOPER tool for assessing agricultural diffuse pollution mitigation methods across the Hampshire Avon Demonstration Test Catchment, UK


Zhang Y., Collins A.L. and Gooday R.D. (2012) Environmental Science & Policy Volume 24, December 2012, Pages 120-131

Describes the application of FARMSCOPER in the Hampshire Avon DTC in order to assess its utility at catchment scale and the potential benefits of relevant and practical mitigation options.


(See also other articles in Environmental Science & Policy Volume 24 which is a special issue on ‘Catchment science and policy evaluation for agriculture and water quality’)



Appraisal of rural BMPs for controlling diffuse pollution and enhancing biodiversity


This is a report produced by the Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) which reviews Best Management Practices (BMPs) for controlling farm-derived diffuse pollution. These comprise planning and general farm measures, in-field, field margin, in-stream and steading measures. BMPs are achieved by reducing inputs, detaining potential run-off water, preventing soil dislodgement, intercepting sediments before they reach watercources (2004).

Report No:  WFD13 Available from FWR, Allen House, The Listons, Liston Road, Marlow, Bucks SL7 1FD.


Or as a download from SNIFFER’s website:



Catchment Sensitive Farming Evaluation Reports


Catchment Sensitive Farming Phase 1 & 2 Evaluation (JP005)

Joint Environment Agency and Natural England evaluation of the first 6 years of Catchment Sensitive Farming

  • CSF advice has been delivered to almost 13,000 holdings covering an area of 1.94m hectares;
  • 57% of holdings have implemented over 62% of the specific recommendations made to reduce water pollution. In total 218,596 recommendations were made;
  • monitored pollutant levels have reduced by up to 30%

Published by Natural England, June 2011


Catchment Sensitive Farming Phase 3 Evaluation Report (CSF156)

Between September 2011 and March 2014, the 9 CSF Catchment Partnerships (led by local partners) provided advice on reducing diffuse water pollution to a total of 2,197 farmers in 10 catchments, through 846 farm advice visits and 95 training events which were attended by 1,290 farmers.

Published by Natural England, February 2015


CSF Capital Grant Scheme Farmer Handbook (CSF3)

Includes useful introduction on why controlling diffuse water pollution from agriculture is important.

Published by Natural England, January 2013


Catchment Sensitive Farming Phase 3 Delivery Report Update (CSF158)

This report is an update on the work and the impact the project has had on water quality since the Evaluation Report and the associated description of project activities, both of which were published in 2014.

Published by Natural England, 11 September 2017



The development of a strategic approach to managing diffuse pollution


Brian James D’Arcy PhD thesis University of Abertay, Dundee – 2013

Thesis is based on papers published from 1993 to 2011 representing milestones in the development of a strategy to manage diffuse sources of pollution. Includes an introduction to diffuse pollution and how it can be controlled.




Diffuse pollution:
an introduction to the problems and solutions


Campbell N. , D'Arcy B., Frost A., Novotny V. and Sansom A. eds. (2005) Diffuse pollution: an introduction to the problems and solutions. 328 pages, ISBN: 9781900222532

A book and DVD covering the nature, causes and the significance of diffuse pollution of both urban and rural origin. Best management practices to tackle the problems are examined as are the ways in which the adoption of such practices may be brought about. Use is made of case studies from several countries to examine the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches.




Diffuse pollution, degraded waters: emerging policy solutions


This OECD ReportDiffuse Pollution, Degraded Waters: Emerging Policy Solutions (IWA Publishing, 2017) outlines the water quality challenges facing OECD countries. It presents a range of policy instruments and innovative case studies of diffuse pollution control.

Table 2.3 (page 54) gives estimated annual national costs of water pollution in a selection of OECD countries including the UK.



Policy highlights from the report:



Diffuse pollution from farms


Cumulatively, diffuse pollution from farms is still having a substantial impact on the quality of English rivers and watercourses. Diffuse water pollution from nitrates is a serious problem.



Diffuse pollution of water by agriculture


Houses of Parliament: Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology

POSTnote Number 478 October 2014

This POSTnote describes Diffuse Pollution of Water by Agriculture’, and measures that can be taken to reduce it.



Diffuse water pollution in England and Wales report


The Unseen Threat to Water Quality: Diffuse water pollution in England and Wales report – Environment Agency

May 2007



Diffuse water pollution theme plan


The Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 (IPENS), supported by European LIFE+ funding, is enabling Natural England, the Environment Agency, and other key partners to plan what, how, where and when to target their efforts on Natura 2000 sites and the areas surrounding them. This themed action plan is part of the IPENS programme.

Developing a strategic approach to water pollution for England’s Natura 2000 sites. May 2015.



Ecosystem effects from nutrient and pesticide pollutants: catchment care as a solution


Bowmer K. H. (2013) Resources 2013, 2

School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Institute for Land Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, NSW Australia;



Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment


A free course from the Open University – includes references.



Evolution of agri-environment schemes in England (NE373)


How agri-environment schemes have evolved from mid 1980s to 2012.

Published by Natural England, November 2012



Farming for cleaner water and healthier soil (NE230)


This document encourages farmers, land managers and farm advisers to make the most of Environmental Stewardship and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. It looks at good agronomic and other practices aimed at reducing soil erosion and runoff of sediment and other pollutants into water.

Published by Natural England, January 2010



Future flood prevention report


The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee report into ‘Future flood prevention’  (November 2016) called for sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) measures to be at least as strong as those in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010:




Inventory of ammonia emissions from UK agriculture 2015 


Defra report by Misselbrook T.H Gilhespy S.L., Cardenas L.M., Williams J., and Dragosits U., October 2016




Land use for achieving ‘good ecological status’ of water bodies in England and Wales: a theoretical exploration for Nitrogen and Phosphorus


A review of the measures and the scale and achievability required to meet the Water Framework Directive. December 2003, 30 pages.



Mitigation options for reducing nutrient emissions from agriculture


A study among European Member States for Cost action 869; Alterra Report 2141, Alterra Wageningen UR

Schoumans O.F. et al. (eds)  (2011)



Modelling the impacts of agricultural management practices on river water quality in Eastern England


Taylor , S. D., Yi He, and Hiscock K. M. (2016)

Journal of Environmental Management  Volume 180, 15 September 2016, Pages 147-163

Water quality models can help the development of diffuse pollution mitigation plans.

The investigation has shown that high-frequency water quality datasets can be applied within the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), as an example of one of the many water quality models available, to quantify the long-term impacts of agricultural mitigation options on water quality.



Nutrient management: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones


Find out if your land is in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) and how use of nitrogen fertilisers and organic manures is restricted in NVZs. Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are areas designated as being at risk from agricultural nitrate pollution. They include about 58% of land in England. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reviews NVZs every 4 years to account for changes in water pollution.



Nutrients and eutrophication: introduction


McDowell R.W. and Hamilton D.P. (2013) Marine and Freshwater Research Vol. 64 iii-vi

This special issue has brought together several papers whose collective aim is to demonstrate efforts in linking strategies to mitigate N and P losses from agricultural systems to effects or trends in receiving water bodies.



Persistent organic pollutants: towards a POPs-free future


European Commission (2017) Science for Environment Policy Future Brief  Issue 19

This Future Brief from Science for Environment Policy presents recent research into POPs’ potential impacts, the levels and future outlook for POPs in the environment and humans, and how we can reduce our use of POPs.





PLANET (Planning Land Applications of Nutrients for Efficiency and the environmenT) is a nutrient management decision support tool for use by farmers and advisers in England/Wales and Scotland for field level nutrient planning and for assessing and demonstrating compliance with the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) rules. PLANET is available free of charge as a download or on DVD.


MANNER-NPK is a practical software tool that provides farmers and advisers with a quick estimate of crop available nitrogen, phosphate and potash supply from applications of organic manure. MANNER-NPK is applicable in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. MANNER-NPK is available free of charge as a download or on CD.



Prevention of environmental pollution from agricultural activity


Code of Good Practice, giving practical advice to farmers etc on minimising pollution, ISBN 0-7559-4106-3, March 2005



Reducing diffuse pollution


Package to help deliver the water quality outcome of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (2011)



Reducing diffuse water pollution: The Demonstration Test  Catchment project


Article by Prof. Bob Harris in FWR Newsletter Issue 2 2010



Reducing water pollution from agricultural sources: The farm nutrient management scheme


Northern Ireland Audit Office: Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland, issued March 2011.



Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution

(England) Regulations 2018 

Statutory Instruments 2018 No. 151 – made 5 February 2018, came into force 2 April 2018

The Regulations aim to prevent manure, fertiliser and soil from agricultural activity getting into inland freshwaters, coastal waters, springs, wells and boreholes. The Regulations are the result of a consultation that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) originally carried out in 2015 on rules to prevent diffuse water pollution from agriculture. In November 2017, DEFRA published their consultation response, setting out the new rules which are now implemented by the Regulations.



Review of the effectiveness of catchment management


Quantifying the Benefits of Water Quality Catchment Management Initiatives

Review of the Effectiveness of Catchment Management Initiatives

Project Management Roger Trengove – RGT Freelance Ltd, on behalf of UKWIR, 2012

Report Ref. No. 12/WR/26/12



River pollution in Northern Ireland


Cave S. and McKibbin D. (2016) River pollution in Northern Ireland: An overview of causes and monitoring systems, with examples of preventative measures. Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service Research Paper 20/16



The SOLUTIONS project: challenges and responses for present and future emerging pollutants in land and water resources management


Brack W. et al.(2015) Science of The Total Environment, 503–504 pp. 22-31

SOLUTIONS (2013 to 2018) is a European Union Seventh Framework Programme Project (EU-FP7). The project aims to deliver a conceptual framework to support the evidence-based development of environmental policies with regard to water quality.



Sustainable use of phosphorus


Schröder J. J. et al. (2010) Sustainable Use of Phosphorus European Commission - Europa EU

Plant Research International (part of Wageningen University Research Centre) Report 357.

Phosphorus scarcity linked to food security and fertilizer/ Sources of phosphorus loss in agriculture/ Sustainable strategies for improving phosphorus use management and reduce water pollution.



A synthesis of diffuse pollution research in England and Wales funded by Defra and EA


Prepared as part of Defra Project WQ0218 – November 2011

Sean Burke



Tackling diffuse water pollution in England


The Environment Agency’s approach to tackling diffuse water pollution, such as run-off from agricultural land, has not, to date, proved value for money. The development of River Basin Management Plans now offers an opportunity to target work by the Agency and others to tackle this complex problem.

Published by National Audit Office, 8 July 2010



Toxic cyanobacteria in water


What are Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae)?



Cyanobacterial blooms in freshwaters represent a major ecological and human health problem worldwide. This paper briefly summarizes information on major cyanobacterial toxins.


Cyanobacterial Toxins (Cyanotoxins) in Water:  FWR Review of Current Knowledge



Towards the review of the European Union Water Framework Directive: Recommendation s for more efficient assessment and management of chemical contamination in European surface water resources


Brack W. et al. (2017) Science of The Total Environment, Volume 576, 15 January 2017, Pages 720-737



  • Improve monitoring and strengthen comprehensive prioritization of toxic pollutants
  • Foster consistent assessment of water pollution
  • Support solution-oriented management of chemicals in the water cycle


Water pollution arising from land containing chemical contaminants


Scottish Environment Protection Agency publication explains how they assess whether contaminated land is causing water pollution, including relevant legislation. 2nd ed. (2012). NB This document is only applicable in Scotland.



Water quality and abstraction statistics



This series contains information on the quality of inland and coastal waters and of the abstraction of water from surface, groundwater, tidal and non-tidal sources.



WFD and the disproportionalit y principle: A national scale assessment for diffuse pollution mitigation in Scottish lochs


A J A Vinten et al. (2012)  James Hutton Institute and Scottish Agricultural College





Tel: +44 (0) 1628 891 589  Fax: +44 (0) 1628 472711

Registered Office: Allen House, The Listons, Liston Road, Marlow,
Buckinghamshire SL7 1FD, UK © 2015 FWR  All rights reserved.

The Foundation for Water Research is a company limited by guarantee,
registered in England, No 525927 and a registered charity No 1086685.