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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Professor Adrian Collins BA (Hons), PhD

Visiting Professor

Professor Adrian Collins's photo

Professor Adrian Collins is Visiting Professor within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

Adie was previously Head of Water in the Soils, Agriculture and Water research team at ADAS and now works in the Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department at Rothamsted Research, North Wyke. He has worked for 21 years researching diffuse pollution from agriculture and additional sectors. His expertise specifically focuses upon soil erosion and nutrient loss, fine sediment dynamics and sediment-associated nutrient and contaminant fluxes. Much of his work has been involved with the development of tracing and fingerprinting procedures for establishing the sources of diffuse pollution (e.g. sediment, nutrients, organic matter) in river basins. Whilst he has focussed on the quantification of individual aspects of catchment pollutant budgets, looking specifically at losses from agricultural sub-sectors (e.g. grass versus arable), urban areas and point sources (farm steadings, sewage treatment works, septic tanks), his recent work has moved towards examining pollutant impacts on aquatic ecology (e.g. fish, macroinvertebrates, macrophytes, diatoms) with a view to informing targets for catchment compliance and on assessing the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of diffuse pollution mitigation options supported by water quality policy and policy instruments. Additional recent work has examined the non-intentional impacts of the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) Action Programme (AP) in England on phosphorus and sediment loss to watercourses and the scope for developing a suite of mandatory so-called ‘basic measures’ for controlling diffuse water pollution from agriculture under Article 11.3 of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). Ongoing collaborative work for Defra and the Environment Agency is developing a national screening tool for targeting agricultural mitigation measures for diffuse water pollution, assessing the technical scope for closing the gap between current agricultural pollutant emissions and existing water quality targets (e.g. for nutrients) and developing a methodology for on-farm ecological targeting of pollutant mitigation measures.

Much of Adie’s work is at the interface of high quality scientific research and national policy advice, analysis and formulation. He has considerable experience of managing large multi-partner research projects for diverse funders and possesses a sound grounding in key policy drivers and schemes for water pollution control. Some of Adie’s recent work has focussed upon supporting sediment and phosphate management for the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) initiative and on assembling longer-term conventional water quality datasets for improving the evidence base available to policy teams and Catchment Officers. He has recently helped Defra re-write Cross Compliance guidance for farmers on the use of riparian buffers for diffuse pollution mitigation in response to the EU CAP Health Check. Adie is currently leading the Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) research platform on the Hampshire Avon and Tamar rivers, as well as a national DTC project on mitigation options (e.g. buffer strips, minimum tillage, over winter stubble cover) for diffuse pollution. He is also assistant director of the Defra Sustainable Intensification Platform (SIP) landscape scale programme investigating risks and opportunities for balancing agricultural productivity and environmental burden in landscapes and the scope for collaborative measures between farm enterprises to assist this goal.

Adie is an experienced speaker at local, regional, national and international meetings and conferences. He is currently Vice President of the International Commission on Continental Erosion (ICCE) of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), a member of the UK Committee for National and International Hydrology and Chair of the SETAC SEDAG international working committee on sediment targets for diffuse pollution policy support. Adie is a member of the National Scientific Advisory Panel for the Salmon and Trout Association. He currently collaborates with researchers and policy teams overseas, including those in Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany and the USA. In 2013, Adie was appointed as a Visiting Professor by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to work on diffuse sediment pollution assessment and mitigation in the upper Yangtze River basin.

Professor Adrian Collins
Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department Rothamsted Research North Wyke Okehampton Devon EX20 2SB UK Tel: +44 (0)1837 883515 (direct) Tel: +44 (0)1837 883500 (switchboard) Mobile: 07789723634 Email:
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