There has been considerable recent activity within our landscape scale experiment in partnership with the local farming community in the upper Welland river basin. Much of the work of putting in place mitigation measures across the upper Eye Brook and Stonton Brook catchments has now been completed, although there is still some work to do. Ditch dams, flood water ponds and field drain interceptor ponds are all located outside the cropped area and are designed to trap sediment and nutrients once they have left fields. Although the main activities are with the arable farmers, some have involved improvements to livestock systems. Some initial surveys of arable soil structure and mapping soil nutrients have resulted in targeted advice to farmers to prevent soil and nutrients leaving fields in the first place and we hope to develop this work further in the coming year. We are aiming to improve the efficiency of food production, while at the same time achieving environmental benefits. Much of the practical work is informed by the research carried out with our research partners on our own nearby farm at Loddington.
The Water Friendly Farming project builds on previous activities in the Eye Brook catchment, not least the Eye Brook Community project in which researchers, farmers and other local residents improved their shared understanding of how the catchment works to deliver both food and environmental benefits. The annual newsletter, 'The Eye' was a key mechanism for sharing information locally and we have recently published another issue of The Eye in order to improve awareness of the Water Friendly Farming project amongst local residents. You can download a copy here. As they emerge from the project, results are being shared with the national farming community and others through the ongoing programme of events held in our eco-build visitor centre at Loddington, and through our advisory activities elsewhere, including our established links with the FWAG Association across the country.