Saturday, 5 January 2013

Water Friendly Farming update

Record rainfall on waterlogged soils at Loddington over the past few months (see Loddington Estate Blog) has brought farming activity to a halt and has flooded local roads, but research activity has also stepped up in response.  Following two dry winters, the recent rain provides opportunities for sampling water in the streams at Loddington and in the three headwater catchments of the Water Friendly Farming project.  The resulting data will contribute to an essential baseline against which to measure improvements in water quality over the next few years.  

Allerton Project Ecologist, John Szczur, processing water samples from one of our automated water samplers before despatching them to the labs for analysis.

The improvements in water quality are expected to arise as a result of a range of measures that will be put in place across the 20km2 agricultural landscape of the upper Eye Brook and Stonton Brook over the next year or so.  It is a big task in terms of the scale of both the monitoring and the mitigation, but on our side we have strong support from the farming community and experience gained from a suite of relevant research projects over the past decade.  The physical measures that we have already started to create on the ground include field drain interceptor ponds, wetlands designed to receive surface runoff, and carefully sited dams in ditches.  These will be backed up with practical advice to farmers, and we have not forgotten domestic sources of nutrients such as septic tanks.

Watch this space for the latest developments and results to emerge from the project, and for news of other activities on our own farm at Loddington.

Local contractor John Farnsworth creating one of the first field drain interceptor ponds to be made as part of the Water Friendly Farming project.

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