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Special Sessions

In addition to Themes A through H (for the list see another webpage) it also possible to submit abstracts to three Special sessions: S1, S2 and S3. A Special session gives a possibility to prominently discuss/present an issue that strictly speaking would not fit (fully) in either of the Themes A through H.

Session S1: Special Session on Multi-functionality of buffer strips for reducing edge of field losses of sediment, nutrients and pesticides and enhance biodiversity

Buffers strips of various types between land and surface waters seem to be one of the most applied mitigation measures in the agricultural landscape but their effects are still debated a lot regarding their use for reduction of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and pesticides losses and their possible effect for biodiversity.

Field edge buffers are one of the most applied mitigation options in the agricultural landscape to reduce the runoff losses of sediment, nutrients and pesticides and also to enhance biodiversity. The functionality of for example buffer strips along watercourses and lakes have been extensively studied but less research has been directed towards the multi-functionality of buffer strips and how field edge buffers in general can be used as a targeted mitigation option in the landscape. New research also appears where buffer strips are transformed into wet buffer zones using different kinds of facilities to capture tile drainage and runoff waters from fields. This way the edge of field buffers becomes new hot spots for nitrate reduction. Use of water treatment residuals or other materials to enhance the sorption of phosphate from fields are other new emerging technologies used in buffer strips.

Topic S1-1
Sediment, nutrient and pesticide removal efficiency of traditional buffer strips
Topic S1-2
Biodiversity of buffer strips – how can it be enhanced?
Topic S1-3
New technologies applied in buffer strips for improving their nutrient retention
Topic S1-4
Can we reuse nutrients and biomass from buffer strips?

Topic S1-5  (proposed by Joachim Rozemeijer, Deltares, The Netherlands)
Edge of field reactors to catch N, P, and/or Pesticides from agricultural drainage and runoff

Background info on S1-5: Edge of field reactors have proven to significantly reduce yearly nutrient loads, especially during winter months, when the largest water and nutrient losses from agricultural catchments occur. This upcoming innovative technology is low-tech, low-cost, easy to operate, and does not involve the loss of arable land. Therefore, these reactors have a large potential to combine agricultural resource efficiency with compliance to water quality and ecology objectives from the Water Framework Directive, the Nitrate Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and the Habitat Directive. In this sub-session, we aim to exchange knowledge and practical experiences from edge of field reactor pilot sites in e.g. the US, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belgium, and New Zealand.

This Special Session S1 will be convened by

Brian Kronvang, Department of Bioscience - Freshwater Ecology, Aarhus University, Denmark (
Marc Stutter, The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, United Kingdom (

Session S2: Special Session on Achieving water quality through voluntary measures: Delivery in practice

This session regards programmes focused on driving voluntary action to address water quality objectives. It will seek to cover as diverse spectrum of initiatives as possible to understand cross-cutting themes and issues.

The objectives of the session is learn the lessons from measures designed to encourage voluntary action to address water quality objectives. It will look at practical examples of implementing such programmes and examine the results they have achieved, lessons learned from their experience and how we identify best practice in the field.  In addition, we will be looking at where voluntary approaches do not work and other mechanisms are required to secure environmental outcomes. 

A particular focus will be on how long-term behavioural change is secured, the necessary pre-conditions and associated mechanisms and measures. It will seek to develop understand of the pre-condition for such long term change and the strategies necessaries to secure it.

The session may look at the benefits to farmers and to farm businesses of implementing actions to improve water quality. This may include examples of how farmers who have implemented environmental measures have been able to charge an added value for their products in the market by creating a trust from the consumer.

The session may also include examples of how farmers have been able to show visitors the measures taken to improve the water quality on his farm, and also how the environmental effect is documented through local measurements, and how the effects are reported in an educational way for the visitors.

Topic S2-1
Impact of programmes of voluntary measures on water quality
Topic S2-2
Techniques to engage audiences to raise awareness of water quality and help them take action
Topic S2-3
The benefits to business of taking action to improve water quality
Topic S2-4
The impact on consumers and other users of water

This Special Session S2 will be convened by

Bob Middleton, Terrestrial Biodiversity, Natural England, Exeter, United Kingdom (
Stina Olofsson, Swedish Board of Agriculture - Jordbruksverket, Sweden (


Session S3: Special Session on Spatial targeting for control of agricultural diffuse pollution of groundwater and surface water

There is a wide range of mitigation options available to reduce the impacts of diffuse pollution on water quality and ecology and there is also an ever growing set of evidence as to their performance in different storm events. However, the effectiveness of the mitigation features will depend on their placement within the landscape. Therefore, to achieve maximum environmental improvement at minimal economic cost, these measures must be spatially targeted. Spatially targeted approaches promise to be substantially more cost-effective and reduce both regulatory and farmer compliance cost (including transaction costs) by targeting only high risk land, i.e. prone to generating pollution and/or hydrologically connected to the receiving waters. Intuitively, spatial targeting attempts to transform the NP problem into a more conventional and tractable point source problem using advanced surveillance science and catchment risk profiling.

Alternative approaches to spatial targeting may differ in their reliance on simulation modelling tools, GIS based approaches and/or data driven tools etc. The objective of this session is to compare different approaches to spatial targeting of mitigation measures at the local, catchment and national scales and discuss the experiences of users of these tools on the ground, i.e. stakeholders, such as, farmers and environmental regulators. This session will also consider economic aspects of spatial targeting, including issues such as whether there is a trade-off between the degree of spatial targeting and cost of implementing micro-targeted mitigation measures in the landscape and identifying the circumstances under which spatial targeting provides the best return on regulatory investment for reducing NP pollution etc.

Topic S3-1
Tools for spatial targeting of diffuse pollution mitigation measures across scales
Topic S3-2
Stakeholder experience of spatial targeting
Topic S3-3
Economic issues with spatial targeting
Topic S3-4
Future research needs for spatial targeting

This Special Session S3 will be convened by

- Ashar AFTAB, Durham University, United Kingdom (
- Sim REANEY, Durham University, United Kingdom (



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