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]
- 21 - 24 Sep 15: Agricultural Production and the Environment: Land Use and Water Quality Conference, Vienna, Austria LuWQ2015 is an international and interdisciplinary conference on the cutting edge of science, management and policy to minimise effects of agriculture and land use changes on the quality of groundwater and surface waters. For more information and to register [click here].
- 28 - 30 Sep 15: CATCHMENT SCIENCE CONFERENCE An international conference, hosted in Ireland by the Agricultural Catchments Programme, exploring the application of catchment science to the environmental and economic challenges facing farmers, policy makers and regulators. For more information and to register [click here].
What's in the news?
- 02 Jul 15: Wheat growing well at Salle Following a recent vist to inspect the wheat crops that have followed the winter cover crop and spring beans, Lister Noble reports "All wheat crops are now full ear emerged and looking clean and healthy; the wheat drilled with the Seed Hawk are still showing the wider row spacing although the recent crop and ear counts suggest that the yields from the three different systems will be quite close. Vaderstad have designed some new machinery to cope with the after harvest trash, so drilling the barley crop on the L fields should not pose a problem this year." A quadrat assessment of ear counts and plant counts was carried out by Nathan Morris (NIAB/TAG) for all nine project fields in early June, and this found surprisingly little difference between the three systems used for the crop establishment.
- June 2015: Update from the DTC Programme The latest newsletter from the DTC includes a summary of work examining how different river catchments transport pollutants in response to rainfall. Work from the Wensum DTC highlighted the importance of identifying the various sources of sediment in intensively farmed arable catchments (and other areas where siltation of the river bed is an issue) and illustrates the need to understand the hydrology of any particular catchment and the way pollutants are transported to streams and rivers in different ways before implementing an overall catchment plan for mitigation measures. The importance of a relatively few storm events in transporting the majority of sediment and associated adsorbed pollutants has profound implications for the design of mitigation features and catchment management planning. This is something we will be investigating further in Phase 2 of DTC. To read more [click here].
- 18 Jun 15: Farming in 2020 - Are You Ready? Around 150 people attended this open day at Morley. The Wensum DTC was between NIAB-TAG's 'New Farming Systems' where Ron Stobart had pot-grown examples of cover crop plants that attrated great interest, and Natural England's Catchment Sensitive Farming stand, where farmers learned more about the new stewardship scheme. Interest in the Wensum DTC's work on cover crops on the Salle estate was high, with more farmers than ever saying that they were trying cover crops for themselves.
- 10 Jun 15: DTC National Conference - Stoneleigh Park, Warwick The DTC conference gave a very coherent overview of DTC, and received good feedback from DEFRA colleagues. Dan McGonigle, (DEFRA's Science Manager, Sustainable Land and Soils) says "The overview and short presentations in the morning were particularly good. Without exception they were punchy, engaging, clear in setting out the wider relevance of the work and together gave a strong flavour of the overall programme. The presentations from Simon Johnson (Eden Rivers Trust) and Poul Hovesen (Farmer of the Year, Salle Estate) were great too, really emphasising the strong links with industry and NGOs that DTC has built up. All in all it was an excellent day and, if the level of discussion in the afternoon break out groups was anything to go by, it was highly successful in engaging people."
- 04 June 15: Agri-tech East visit to Salle Agri-tech East had a wonderful sunny day for a farm site visit to Salle (photos above), to showcase some of the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment's collaboration with Manor Farm, exploring a variety of installed measures and cropping practices, generating a lot of interest and lively debate. To read Agri-tech East's account of the day [click here]. There was also a very good write-up in the Eastern Daily Press - to read it [click here]. Listen out for a piece about the event on Radio Four's Farming Today.
- 03 June 15: Frontier Agriculture open day at Gressenhall With the sun shining, a great day was had by all who attended the Frontier Agriculture’s open day. Tour groups of farmers made their way around the farm at Gressenhall, listening to various talks and being shown demonstrations of the latest equipment or crop varieties being trialled. The DTC team were stationed out in the field next to the cover crop demonstration, with Lister explained about the research on the Salle estate and how results from our monitoring stations demonstrate the crops ability to retain nitrates and improve soil structure and quality. Handouts with research findings were distributed, sparking much discussion and interest.
- 26 May 15: Agri-Tech East and Anglian Water workshop: Balancing water supply and demand This event for farmers and landowners offered a practical insight into industry decision making, the challenges that industry and agriculture both face in terms of water availability and investment options to meet the growing demand for water in our region.
- 22 April 15: Wild About the Wensum The annual family day at Pensthorpe nature reserve was the biggest yet, with many wildlife and conservation organisations present and lots of families, Brownie and Cub Scout groups attending. Our stand proved popular, with educational activities for all ages including water testing, our ever-popular catchment model and a new quiz.
To read more about what's been happening see our News page.