COST 832


Minutes of the 4th Management Committee Meeting

in Square de Meeus 8, Brussels, 25 April 2000


J. Bollman, EC

W. Chardon, Netherlands

P. Csatho, Hungary

J -P. Destain, Belgium

E. Frossard, Switzerland

F. Gil-Sotres, Spain

B. Kronvang, Denmark

P. Strauss, Austria

H. Tunney, Ireland

N. Vagstad, Norway

P. Withers, UK (Chairman)


1. Adoption of the agenda

The chairman opened the meeting, introduced Dr Joachim Bollmann the new Secretariat for COST832 and welcomed the participants. Apologies were received from Greece, Italy and Finland.

2. Adoption of the Minutes of the 3rd management committee

The Minutes were approved.

3. Election of chairperson and vice chairperson

Paul J.A. Withers (UK) and Wim Chardon (NL) were re-elected as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.

4. Adoption of new countries/delegates to the Action

Dr Bollmann informed the Action that France had joined COST832 on 29 April 1999 and that Romania had joined on the 23 November 1999. The Action now included 18 countries. Up-to-date information on the membership and working group activities of COST Actions generally were now available at the COST website: It was agreed that the COST website should be linked to the specific COST832 website and vice-versa.

Action: W. Chardon

Eastern European countries were now eligible to participate in COST Actions and get re-imbursed. Discussions on participation by Israel in COST Actions as an associated member were also underway. Dr Bollmann indicated that other COST countries could join the Action in future and the budget would be increased pro-rata. However, it was agreed that, in view of the already large size of COST832, further formal invitations to other COST countries to join COST832 were not justified unless specific scientific contacts had become established.

5. Co-ordinator reports for working group meetings in 1999

WG1 - J-P Destain reported that a full meeting of WG1 was held in Cordoba in May 1999 to discuss soil P tests, fertiliser recommendation systems, soil and crop P response data from long-term trials, conceptual models of P cycling in soils and methodologies for calculating P surpluses. The meeting concluded that soil P tests were very diverse but generally able to distinguish levels of soil P fertility for decisions on P fertiliser use. Further comparison between the different soil tests and in relation to their ability to predict environmental P loss was however required. Fertiliser recommendation systems did not adequately take account of soil factors influencing P supply to crops and further examination of long-term trials data was needed to pin-point the influence of these factors in a systematic way. Trials data had suggested that the efficiency of P use was <10% and only small amounts (15-30 kg P/ha) were required to balance crop offtake. Whilst much was known about inorganic P cycling in soils, conceptual thinking on the organic P cycle needed improvement. Average P surpluses for different farm types were in the range 6-27 kg/ha, being greatest on livestock holdings. A further small meeting in Eschikon, Switzerland in November 1999 had outlined a soil exchange programme and a questionnaire to improve the long-term trials database. The results of these would be examined in 2000.

WG2 - W. Chardon reported that a full meeting of WG2 was held in Cordoba in May 1999 with a joint WG1/WG2 discussion on the last day. Terminology of P transfer processes in soils, soil physical and chemical properties affecting the potential for particle detachment, inorganic and organic P cycling in soils in relation to solubilization and leaching, and existing soil P tests which could be used to predict the potential for dissolved P loss. Participants agreed on the terms ‘detachment’ and ‘solubilization’ to describe the process by which particulate and dissolved P loss became potentially available for transport. Solubilization of inorganic P was well understood and could be modelled, but organic P cycling was more difficult to describe. Whilst much work had been directed at physical processes affecting particle detachment, the significance of these for P enrichment and transport was not widely researched. Similarly, the influence of soil P chemistry and farming history on potential particulate P detachment needed further work. A submission to the EC Fifth framework to develop an environmental soil P test to predict the potential for sediment and phosphorus transport from agricultural land (DESPRAL) in support of WG2 activities had been successful. In reviewing soil P tests, it was concluded that water-extractable P was probably the best indicator of potential dissolved P loss from soil, although this needed evaluation in a soil exchange programme. A further small meeting took place in Brussels in November 1999 to discuss gathering information on the transport of solubilized and detached P and the extent to which it could be modelled in the different COST countries. This would form the focus of WG2 activities in 2000, along with a soil exchange programme in co-operation with WG1.

WG3 - B. Kronvang reported that a small meeting of WG3 was held in Silkeborg in April 1999 to discuss the results of a questionnaire on methodologies for sampling, analysis and load estimation of P loss in catchments in the different COST countries, the existence of national monitoring programmes and the availability of data on P loss from small agricultural catchments as opposed to catchments with significant anthropogenic inputs. The questionnaire had been sent out to all WG3 participants but there was a poor response. It was decided to revise the questionnaire to include information on modelling of P loss at the small catchment scale prior to a full WG3 meeting to be held in Berlin in spring 2000. This meeting would join together the two sub-groups on methodology and modelling. Uncertainties over budget cuts in 1999 hindered the development of these plans. A small organising meeting had been arranged for April 2000 to re-start these initiatives with a view to a full WG3 group meeting in October 2000.

WG4 - In lieu of S. Orfanidis (WG4 co-ordinator), P. Withers reported that a small meeting of WG4 had been held in Kavala, Greece in February 1999 to further discuss the work programme of WG4. At this meeting it was agreed to hold a WG4 meeting in 1999 to discuss P bioavailability and the cycling of P in different types of water. Unfortunately, WG4 were unable to meet as planned in 1999 due to budget restrictions. This meeting has now been re-arranged for May 2000 in Helsinki. A further small meeting with the European Environment Agency (EEA) was held in December 1999 to encourage their participation in COST 832 and in WG4 in particular. The EEA is actively involved in developing a systematic framework for monitoring diffuse pollution in the EC and the link between catchment characteristics, water chemistry and trophic state.

6. Budgetary plan for the year 2000

Dr Bollmann informed the Action that there was a budget allocation of 70,000 ECU for COST832 in 1999 and that this would be the likely level of funding in the future allowing for inflation. In the final year (2002) only 35,000 ECU would be allocated because the Action was due to finish in June of that year.

On the basis of an average 800 ECU/person/ meeting, this allowed approximately 90 persons to be re-imbursed for COST832 meetings in 1999. After taking account of existing money held at the Chairman’s institute for short-term scientific missions, it was agreed that this funding allocation would be just about sufficient to finance one full meeting of each WG (maximum 20 persons attending), the MCM (8 persons) and a small WG3 meeting (5 persons) in 2000 providing meetings were held over a weekend to take advantage of APEX fares.

Dr Bollmann also reported the new daily allowance for COST meetings (up from 110 to 149 ECU’s per day) and suggested this may place further restrictions on persons attending in the future. Concern was expressed about the unduly long delay in recovering expenses incurred at COST meetings.

7. Working plan for COST832 in 2000 and 2001

After discussion of the most cost effective way to progress the objectives of the Action, the full working group meetings planned for COST 832 in the years 2000 and 2001 on a budget allocation of 70,000 ECU/year are summarised below:













Evaluation of soil exchange and long-term trials data. Organic P cycling and wetland P chemistry.

Peter Leinweber, Germany


23-25 Nov










Surface and sub-surface transport processes and their prediction at the field scale.

Eder, Austria


21-23 Sept










1. Measuring catchment P loads, P loss export coefficients and empirical modelling of catchment P losses.

Brian Kronvang, Denmark


2-4 Nov 2000





2. Combined meeting with WG4 on sources, delivery and impacts of P loss in different types of waterbody.

To be decided

To be decided

Spring 2001









1. Bioavailability of diffuse P and fate of P in different waterbodies.

Petri Ekholm, Finland


11-13 May 2000

2. Combined meeting with WG4 on sources, delivery and impacts of P loss in different types of waterbody

To be decided

To be decided

Spring 2001





All WGs1




Joint meeting on linking the field to the waterbody - synthesis of WG expertise and information gaps

Paul Withers, UK


Autumn 2001





1To be composed of selected members of each WG and to ensure adequate representation of COST countries but to a maximum of 20 participants.

A combined meeting of WG3 and WG4 in spring 2001 was felt most appropriate in view of the lack of meetings of these groups to-date due to budget restrictions.

Additional small meetings of WG1 and WG2 would be held in the year 2001 to progress their respective objectives in time for the joint meeting of all WGs in autumn 2001. The latter would pool knowledge gained in each WG, identify the suitability of information collected and identify knowledge gaps to be addressed in the remainder of the time allocated to the Action. This joint WG meeting would be linked to both an MC meeting and an international P conference organised by P. Haygarth, IGER, UK in autumn 2001. It was also agreed that COST 832 should make contact with COST632 to exchange information and expertise.

The Action was due to finish with an international conference but with at least 18 months needed to organise this, too little progress had been made on WG objectives, especially of WG3 and WG4, which had not yet met due to budget restrictions. It was agreed that the combination of budget restrictions and the lack of time to organise a final COST832 conference was sufficient justification to request a one year extension to the Action. An extension would also allow more time for supporting EC Fifth Framework project results to filter down to WGs. The Chairman agreed to write to the EC with this proposal by September 2000 following completion/publication of annual reports and mid-term review.

Action: P. Withers

8. Annual reports

Annual reports had yet to be completed for the years 1998 and 1999. Dr Bollmann stressed that these should not be too large in order to reduce production costs. They should be 10-15 pages in length and give concise summaries of the activities and conclusions of each WG including an overview of overall progress by the Chairman. It was agreed that for 1999, the annual report should therefore include only summaries of the WG1/WG2 discussions/conclusions and that the full papers prepared by WG2 members at Cordoba should be produced as a separate proceedings. All reports and proceedings would be printed by EC.

The Chairman also needed to prepare a mid-term review as part of COST requirements.

Action: P. Withers, W. Chardon


9. Short-term scientific missions

Only one visit had been made in 1999. However, four proposals were to be submitted in the year 2000 in support of WG1, WG2 and WG3 activities. It was unclear whether these could be funded out of existing reserves held by the Chairman’s institute since 1999. The Chairman agreed to clarify the position with Brussels. Applications should be sent in as soon as possible.

Action: All, P. Withers

10. Place and date of next meeting

It was decided that the next MC meeting would be held in autumn 2001 the day after the combined meeting of all WGs at Exeter, UK.

11. Any other business

E. Frossard informed the Action that the project proposal ‘Remediation of grassland soils excessively fertilised with phosphorus’ which was supported by COST832 in 1999 had been 50% funded by the Swiss Government and other avenues were now being explored to fund the remaining 50%. The results of the project would be useful to the Action, especially if an extension was approved.

P. Csatho drew attention to the results of an EC FAIR project on national N and P export to the Danube River which was completed in 1994 but the results of which were not widely available. It was agreed that these results would be relevant especially to WG3 and should be traced.

Action: P Csatho

Paul J.A. Withers

Joachim Bollmann

Chairman COST 832

COST Secretariat