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?
- NOVEMBER 13: Avon DTC updates on water quality The Hampshire Avon river catchment flows through the counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset covering approximately 1,750 square kilometres and including the Sem, Nadder, Wylye, Bourne and Ebble tributaries, which all converge within a short distance around Salisbury. The River Tamar, in addition, has been adopted as an official satellite to the Hampshire Avon DTC. This expansion is supported by DEFRA and provides an opportunity to assess the water quality and freshwater responses to mitigation strategies funded by South West Water via the Payment for Ecosystem Services scheme being implemented by the Westcountry Rivers Trust. To read the latest water quality reports for the Ebble, Sem Wylye and Tamar sub-catchments [click here].
- 30 September 2013: Experimental measures work underway at Salle We are entering an exciting phase of the Wensum DTC project as with the close cooperation of Salle Farms Co., NIAB-TAG and Frontier Agriculture, nine fields have been selected for experimentation with cover crops and strip tillage to reduce the impact of autumn runoff of residual nutrients following the harvest. To read a full account of the work that is underway visit our research page.
- July 15th 2013: Salle Estate wins Champion Farm cup at the Aylsham Agricultural Show Salle Park Estate was awarded the Champion Farm cup at the 2013 Aylsham Agricultural Show and celebrated by hosting a farm visit at Manor Farm on Monday 15 July, finishing with refreshments and prize-giving at Salle Hall. Cropping at Salle comprises a combination of winter and spring cereals, sugar beet, spring beans and oilseed rape grown on a seven-year rotation. Arable operations cover in excess of 2000 hectares, including three local farms managed under contract farming arrangements. Permanent pasture is let for grazing by sheep and cattle. The Christmas tree plantation occupies 37 hectares, supplying trees to the Estate’s farm shop and local garden centres. The Estate currently has 183 hectares of arable and permanent grassland in Entry- and Higher-Level Stewardship Schemes. Salle Farms has over several years been actively involved in Catchment Sensitive Farming and is currently participating in the Defra Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment project, members of which were on-hand to explain the project as part of the farm visit. The warm, sunny evening was well-attended with about 175 guests, including many farmers, agronomists, land agents, agricultural suppliers and engineers, representing a broad cross-section of the Norfolk agricultural community. The pictures below show (left to right) trailers used to ferry participants on the Salle Manor Farm visit; Andrew and Faye presenting on the Wensum DTC project at Stinton Hall Farm kiosk and Salle Estate staff collecting the Champion Farm cup and shield at Salle Hall. NB: Learn more about the Salle Estate by visiting their new website [click here].
- July 4th 2013: Wensum Alliance Year 4 Conference Our venue this year - Hunter's Hall, near Swanton Morley, within the estate of farmer John Carrick, who has taken a keen interest in the Wensum DTC project, couldn't have been more appropriate to the conference theme - 'research and partnership working in the Wensum catchment'. Morning presentations updating everyone on the scientific data and experiemental work were followed by a gloriously sunny afternoon out on the estate, hearing from John about Higher Level Stewardship measures, floodplain management, and the challenges of combining these with farming needs, and also from Robin Chase (Atkins UK) about restoration work on the Wensum, and the chance to see this at first-hand.
- Bob Harris, Secretariat of the Demonstration Test Catchments Programme on behalf of Defra said “Both yesterday and on a visit to the Eden last week I have been stuck by the step change in the growth of the ‘communities of practice’ the DTC consortia are developing. It was heartening to see a number of farmers at the conference, the enthusiasm of other stakeholders and the focus expanded to the whole catchment rather than the discrete study areas. It was interesting to hear the challenges of balancing flood alleviation with ecosystem enhancement from John Carrick’s perspective as local riparian farmer, and see the work that has been carried out. Vocabulary is clearly important - one person’s “noxious weed” is another’s wild flower and part of the biodiversity! As in the Eden, the presence of a co-operative, indeed supportive, CSF officer is a great help providing an excellent bridge to the farming community.”
- To download presentations from the meeting and materials from the delegate pack [Click here].
- JUNE 2013: New DTC Newsletter Read about the latest developments across all three catchments in the latest DTC Newsletter. [Click here].
- May 18th 2013: Pensthorpe's Wild about the Wensum The pictures below show our busy stand at this family event at Pensthorpe Wildfowl Trust. Several members of the UEA team helped on the stand and Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer Steve Haley (pictured left) also came along with a badge-making machine that proved a big hit! Steve says “I was grateful for the chance to contribute to the Wensum Alliance stand and everyone had a great day. The badges were very popular and they worked well at bringing people to the stand, where they then had an opportunity to do some nitrate testing and get a water pollution message from the DTC team including useful information on the work of CSF in the area. Partnership working in practise!”
- MAY 2013: New Newsletters Read about the Environment Agency's improvement works on the Wensum in the latest River Wensum Restoration Scheme Newsletter [Click here]. You can also find out about the work of the Broadland Catchment Partnership in their newsletter [Click here].
- 07-12 APRIL 2013: European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria The annual week-long conference of the EGU was attended by over 11,000 scientists from 95 countries. Two members of the Wensum Alliance team attended the Hydrological Science sessions, presenting posters and mini-talks of their latest research. Richard Cooper contributed to the session titled ‘Transfer of sediments and associated substances in catchment and river systems’. Richard said of the event "The EGU conference provided an ideal opportunity for me to showcase my latest DTC based research on sediment fingerprinting techniques to an international scientific audience." To see Richard's poster [click here]. Emilie Vrain contributed to the session on ‘Stakeholders, public involvement and collaborative processes in hydrology research and water management’. Emily adds "It was wonderful to meet so many researchers who are interested in catchment management. The EGU was a great introduction to international conferences and a very valuable experience for me." To see Emily's poster [click here].
- APRIL 2013: What's happening elsewhere? Catchment news from Essex The UEA Wensum team has been exchanging knowledge with Teresa Meadows who is advisor for the Chelmer and Blackwater catchment in Essex. They share many of the issues faced in the Wensum catchment as you will see if you visit their website - www.chelmerandblackwater.org.uk or take a look at their latest newsletters Spring 2013 and January 2013.
To read more about what's been happening so far see our News page.