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One day seminar: Refertilising Wester Ross

Posted: Thursday 17 December, 2015 @ 17:58:28

(related field excursions to take place on Thursday 7th April and Saturday 9th April).


This meeting will focus on the management of fertility in Wester Ross.

The productivity of large parts of Wester Ross depends upon the availability of the plant nutrient phosphorus. Phosphorus is present in all living things and in the soil. It is a vital nutrient which can limit plant growth.

The seminar will consider how natural processes and human activities have led to changes in the availability of phosphorus within the landscape over time scales of hundreds of years.

In some parts of the world, human activities have led to a build up of phosphorus in the environment. Waters have become eutrophied (over-enriched) as a result of agricultural run-off or discharge of effluents from domestic or industrial sources into drainage systems.

Much of Wester Ross is at the other end of the fertility spectrum. Has there been a long-term decline in the fertility of Wester Ross and the value of land for production of livestock, deer, wildlife and fisheries; and as a place where people can make a living?

The seminar is aimed at members of the local community including land owners and managers, crofters, nature conservation and wildlife enthusiasts, government representatives, school pupils (on holiday), and anyone else with an interest in helping to shape the future of the land and the ‘big picture’ for people living within and around Wester Ross.

Presentations will aim to cover the following (related topics may also be included . . . ):

  • Phosphorus availability and land management practices: past and present
  • Predators and people in the landscape: how do they affect nutrient cycling?
  • Managing fertility in the croftlands
  • Deer management and phosphorus cycling
  • Freshwater fisheries and river catchment fertility

A workshop session (for all participants) will focus on the following questions:

  • Is Wester Ross as fertile and productive as in the past?
  • Is there a case for ‘refertilising’?
  • If so, what are the options?
  • What is your vision for Wester Ross in 50 years time?

If you are interested in attending, please contact Peter Cunningham at the email address below. The programme and further details of the workshop and field excursions will be put together early in 2016.

Some keywords: bedrock, bees, biodiversity hotspots, bone meal, carcass retention, cattle, eagles, earthworms, ecosystem fertility, gardens, grass, green knolls, grouse, government policy, heather, humus, insects, leaching, liming, marine nutrients, middens, moor burn, mycorrhiza, nature reserve, nutrient budget, oak, peatland, phosphorus, productivity, rainforest, recycling, red deer, rewilding, seaweed, salmon, sheep, song birds, soil, SRDP, tourism, trophic pathways, trout, West Highland Survey, Wester Ross Biosphere, wildflowers, woodland, younger generation . . .  

Peter D. Cunningham,