In recent decades, the off-site transport of sediment and nutrients from agricultural land into the neighbouring natural and built environment has become a more pressing environmental sustainability issue than the on-site threats of soil erosion in many of the world’s temperate regions. In the temperate region of Northern Ireland, recent studies have highlighted the off-site issue of soil erosion by water in the present day, and projected that the problem may become more widespread and serious in a changing climate. This review paper examines how this problem is being managed in the present day, and draws on examples of policy in other countries to consider how the role of policy needs to be modified for more effective management. Farmers are generally not adhering to present-day policy and “keeping their land in good agricultural and environmental condition”. A range of suggested changes in policy and practice is offered, ranging from educating farmers on erosion mitigation and remediation to developing specific policies aimed at targeting soil erosion and conservation as their sole objective. An increase in the evidence base from measured erosion rates in the field is postulated to be the most likely route to achieving policy changes.
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