The Demonstration Test Catchments (DTC) project is a joint Defra, Environment Agency (EA) and Welsh Assembly Government initiative working in three river catchments – the Wensum in Norfolk plus the Eden (Cumbria) and Avon (Hampshire).
The overall objective of the project is to provide evidence to test the hypothesis that it is possible to cost effectively reduce the impact of agricultural diffuse water pollution on ecological function while maintaining food security through the implementation of multiple on-farm measures across whole river catchments using local expertise to solve local problems. [READ MORE]
What's in the news?
- 06 Jun 14: Spring bean cultivation update Following the introduction of an oilseed radish cover crop during Autumn 2013, spring beans were established in March 2014 on an area of 143 ha on the Salle Estate in Norfolk. Of this area, 51 ha were established using a direct drilling method, a further 51 ha with a combination of cultivating and drilling and a final 41 ha with a combination of ploughing, cultivating and drilling. At the time of a field inspection by members of the project team including Salle Farms Ltd, Frontier and Väderstad, all the bean crops were growing well. The UEA team continues to monitor the measures fields with sampling of field drains, porous pots and water courses. To read more about the experimental details [click here].
- 04 June 14: Frontier open day - interest in cover crops Despite a very wet day there was a good turnout at Frontier Agriculture’s open day at Gressenhall. Paul Brown from Frontier talked to groups of farmers about the benefits of oilseed radish as a cover crop and Lister explained about the experimental work on the Salle estate and how the monitoring data demonstrates the crop’s ability to ‘hold’ nitrates on the land overwinter and act as a soil improver and green manure for the following spring crop. Interest was high and many questions were asked about cultivation techniques and use in different crop rotation situations.
- 30 May 14: Borehole testing by the British Geological Survey Two sets of boreholes were installed in early 2011 as part of the Wensum DTC monitoring. At the two locations, one borehole is drilled into the Chalk aquifer and three boreholes are completed in the overlying Quaternary deposits of glacial clays, sands and silts. All eight boreholes have micro-divers installed that record water level and temperature at 15-minute intervals. To enable estimation of groundwater infiltration rates, slug tests and borehole pumping tests were carried out in May 2014 by hydrogeologists from the British Geological Survey. Both tests create a change in borehole water level, and the rate at which the water level falls following the rapid insertion of the slug or as a result of switching on the pump can be used to estimate aquifer properties such as transmissivity and storativity. Similar calculations can be made in response to the rate of recovery in water level once the slug is removed or the pump is switched off.
- 30 May 14: Focus on Phosphorus The Environment Agency has produced a document summarising the findings of a project on phosphorus eutrophication within the Anglian River Basin District. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires the introduction of phosphorus standards with the aim of reaching good ecological status. In the Anglian Region currently, 51% of all water bodies do not meet the WFD phosphorus standard. The document covers the main points from the strategic report produced as part of the project, and lists some of the main options required to reduce phosphorus and freshwater eutrophication in the Anglian River Basin District. To access the document [click here].
- 30 May 14: Essex & Suffolk water catchment approach film and 2014 metaldehyde campaign Essex & Suffolk Water have made a short film to introduce their catchment approach to managing risks in their drinking water supply catchments. They are also launching a campaign called ‘Pellets: Products, precision, protection’, to help farmers and operators explore their pelleting options and pledge to ‘do something different’ on their farm this autumn, to reduce metaldehyde concentrations in the catchment waterbodies. To view the film on YouTube [click here]. To find out more about their catchment work [click here].
- 21 May 14: Countryside Classroom at Salle Estates A Countryside Classroom event on the Salle Estate was organised by the Countryside Alliance and gave around 800 local school children the opportunity to get into the countryside to learn about farming and nature. Our stand explained the water cycle and problem of diffuse pollution from agriculture (making use of our improvised catchment model) and the experimental work on cover crops taking place on the estate. The children also looked at the variance in nitrate in samples of river water, tap water and rain water. They particularly liked the model with its lego town!
- 07 May 14: The River Wensum Restoration Strategy is the winner of the inaugural England River Prize! The prize, which comes with a £10,000 grant is being awarded by a partnership of the River Restoration Centre, WWF-UK, the Environment Agency and the International River Foundation. The award recognises the project’s holistic approach to river restoration, and the diverse range of skills needed for such a task. The project pulled together a wide range of statutory agencies, professional advisors and local partners to deliver improvements to the river. Click here to read the full story.
- Watch this space! ...
To read more about what's been happening so far see our News page.