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?

  • Thurs 6th November,17:30 at The Forum, Norwich: ESRC Festival of Social Science Event "Putting a Price on Nature" This one-off public discussion which is part of a nationwide Festival of over 200 events, brought together key representatives from the worlds of local planning, conservation, business and research. Professor Ian Bateman OBE, University of East Anglia, presented the case for valuing nature and why an economic perspective matters. A lively discussion involving invited guests from a variety of organisations with a nature conservation interest followed, along with questions from members of the public.
  • October 27: Anglian River Basin Management Plan consultation Catchment summaries which give more local detail to supplement the main plan are now available online. To view them [click here].
  • October 25: Further trials show benefits of cover crops to reduce risks of nitrate pollution The Eastern Daily Press reported on a tour of a demonstration site at Gressenhall operated by Frontier Agriculture, where five cover crops were on trial - oil radish, winter turnip, rape, rye and vetch. Lister Noble, Farm Advisor for the Wensum Alliance, also talked to the 50 attendees about the positive impact on soil nitrogen residues from the cover crops trial on the Salle estate.
  • October 14: New DTC Newsletter Autumn's newsletter is packed with reports on research progress and mitigation measures, a more detailed account of why Poul Hovesen was voted 'Farmer of the Year' and information about DEFRA's new 'Sustainable Intensification' programme amongst other things. To read the newsletter [click here].
  • 03 October 14: Poul Hovesen wins Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year 2014 Many congratulations to Salle Farms manager Poul Hovesen who has just been presented with Farmer of the Year and Arable Farmer of the Year awards by Defra Secretary, Liz Truss. Poul and Salle Farm's involvement in the monitoring programme and field trials in the Wensum DTC is key to the project's work in testing on-farm measures to reduce water pollution in the River Wensum whilst maintaining food production. Poul says "We need to stand back and think, and respect Mother Nature and the soil, as we need a sustained agriculture in a more open market." Poul is demonstrating this on the Salle estate with impressive yields whilst championing environmental responsibility.
  • 13 Jun 14: New Broadland Rivers Catchment Plan The launch of the Broadland Catchment Partnership catchment plan was well reported in the local press. The Wensum Alliance and UEA are partners and have helped contribute to the plan which is part of the Catchment Based Approach. To read the press report [click here]. To see the catchment plan [click here].
  • 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].
Spring bean crop at Salle 2014

  • 04 June 14: Frontier open day - interest in cover crops Sampling boreholes 2014Despite 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.
Sampling boreholes 2014

To read more about what's been happening see our News page.

View Wensum DTC Google Earth project
Wensum Google Earth project
Explore the Wensum catchment from the comfort of your own computer using this 'Google Earth' project developed by GIS expert Gilla Sunnenberg. [Click here] to view the project.
Out and about
Mill on the Wensum
Three arched bridge
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