Learning and knowledge exchange was a key feature throughout the project, an enthusiastic two-way flow of understanding, with researchers learning from farmers and other practitioners, and findings from the research shared with these groups, policy-makers, the public, students, young learners and the wider research community.

Collage image from various outreach events

The Wensum DTC team held or attended a wide range of events over the years, which you can read about by expanding the links below.

  • 27 Jun 19: Royal Norfolk Show - Discovery Zone  This year the Wensum DTC team joined forces with UEA PhD researcher Natasha Balashova in the Royal Norfolk show's 'Discovery Zone' with a stand featuring a range of educational activities on integrated catchment management and posters and leaflets explaining the Wensum DTC's diffuse pollution mitigation research. Natasha's board game where participants aimed to reduce their diffuse pollution along a river valley was especially popular. Particular thanks to UEA student ambassadors Christine and Mo who put in a lot of hard work and great enthusiasm in engaging with visitors ensuring the stand drew a lot interest from children and adults alike.

Collage image from the Royal Norfolk Show

 

  • 19 - 20 Jun 19: Seminar on Catchment Ecosystem Management with Delegation from Chinese Ministry of Water Resources  A seminar and field trip to the Wensum DTC project area at9-2 Salle Farms was arranged for a delegation from the Department of Soil and Water Conservation of the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources (MWR). The purpose of the visit was to learn about the UK’s policy, regulation and approaches in catchment ecosystem management. The seminar included presentations from Rob Davies of Defra who provided an overview of UK policy on water quality and agriculture; James Grischeff of Natural England who explained how government is working with agriculture to improve soils and water and Andrew Lovett who gave a talk on the Wensum DTC work; there was also a presentation from Chaoyong Pu of the MWR on soil, water conservation and ecosystems in China. In the last few years, five delegations have visited the UEA and Wensum DTC study site, included two delegations from Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (in 2013 and 2018), a delegation from Chinese Ministry of Water Resources (in 2019), a delegation from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2012), and a delegation from China Agricultural University (in 2017). These have been organised through the UK-China Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) which is based at UEA.

Delegation from Chinese Ministry of Water Resources

  • 12 May 2019: Wild About the Wensum This year's event theme was 'water' so a perfect opportunity to once again showcase the ongoing work in the Wensum DTC relating to measures for improving water quality and reducing diffuse pollution from agriculture. The move to a Sunday event seemed to draw the crowds and the variety of water-related activities and quizzes proved popular with the many visitors to the stand.

Our stand at Wild about the Wensum

  • 28 January 2019: Sediment Trap Study in the News An interview with Prof Andrew Lovett of the Wemsum DTC and Poul Hoveson of Salle Farm Estates regarding the roadside sediment traps installed on the Estate in 2017 was featured on BBC East's Inside Out programme on 28th January and was followed by features on the national and local BBC websites and has been taken up by the local press. The traps prevent sediment ending up in local watercourse where it smothers the gravel bed and can alter the water chemistry and ecology. The results so far are promising - reducing sediment load into the Blackwater river by over 50%. One trap caught over 7 tonnes of sediment in one year. 

image of press report on sediment traps

 

 

  • 11 December 2018: NFU Farmed Environment Conference The NFU’s first Farmed Environment Conference was opened by NFU President Minette Batters, and addressed by George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The meeting include several case studies by farmers, including one from Poul Hoveson concerning arable farming in East Anglia with discussion focussing on managing the environment alongside producing the nation’s food. A new publication United by our environment, our food, our future  was launched at the event. 
  • 15 November 2018: Workshop - Farming Methods and Machinery - Salle Village Hall  Broadland Catchment Partnership hosted an event which attracted 46 attendees from Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire including 20 farmers (over 7000 ha) along with agronomists, other farm advisers and academics. Presentations from local farmers, agricultural engineers, and academics focussed on traditional and novel cost-effective techniques for improving soil and water and drew on evidence from the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment, UEA, Harper Adams University, Cranfield University and ADAS trials related to cultivations and cover crops. Lland-Ho’s Earthwake for tramline disruption was on display and attendees were able to walk to a nearby oil seed rape field to discuss soil structure and were taken by tractor and trailer to a field of cover crops to discuss their establishment and destruction. Tramline layout and direction of sprayer travel around the field was also discussed as a simple cost-effective way to improve water resource protection. The event was reported in the Eastern Daily Press.
  • 28 June 2018: Salle Farms win British Beet Research Organisation's first Beet Yield Challenge The hot weather brought around 80,000 visitors to the Royal Norfolk Show this year. The event included the announcement of Salle Farms as the winner of the BBRO's Beet Yield Challenge after producing an astounding sugar beet yield of 121 tonnes per hectare - 95% of the theoretical yield potential. Success was put down to good soil health, using cover crops and livestock manure, and having a good rotation. The full story Norfolk sugar beet growers win national Beet Yield Challenge  is on the Eastern Daily Press website. 
  • May 2018: The Prince's Countryside Parade  Prince Charles is Patron of the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, and an invitation was extended to attend the Royal Cornwall Show which hosted a special celebration of the Prince's contribution to the countryside, environment and rural communities in the UK. Around 80 of His Royal Highness's patronages came together in a parade to highlighting their work and achievements to date. Kevin and Andrew attended to represent the contribution of the School of Environmental Sciences to countryside research, of which the DTC project is a prime example. 

Prince's Countryside Parade

  • May 2018: Wild About the Wensum  We have been showcasing the DTC work at the ‘Wild about the Wensum’ event at Pensthorpe Natural Park for several years now, introducing to the visiting children and their parents the catchment-based approach and our work with farmers on mitigating diffuse pollution from agriculture. It's a well attended event enjoyed by all those helping on the stand. The last couple of events featured the work on cover crops but this year’s stand introduced the issue of sedimentation and presented first year results from the sediment traps that have been installed on the Salle Estate. Sediment related activities interested the children and parents were equally engaged and astounded that one trap was able to capture over 7 tonnes of sediment in one year! For more information about the research results go to the publications page.  

Wild About the Wensum

 

  • 28-29 Jun 2017: Royal Norfolk Show  Located off the main avenue through the showground ensured a large flow of visitors to our stand in the Innovation Hub marquee. The cover crops were in full growth and these and the ever popular catchment model (later making a debut appearance on BBC Look East) plus lots of fun looking chemistry made for a colourful display attracting lots of interest from show-goers, school groups and VIP guests including Michael Gove, Sectretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (pictured talking with Steve). The DTC team were kept fully occupied over the two days, answering questions about the uses of cover crops, the monitoring work and findings so far.

Royal Norfolk Show

  • 06 May 2017: Pensthorpe's Wild about the Wensum!  Our stand at this year's event included the new-improved catchment model prepared by Gilla, as popular with young visitors as ever. In addition, to engage people with research in the Wensum DTC evaluating the effectiveness of cover crops as a means to reduce diffuse pollution, we featured a display of cover crop plants kindly grown at UEA by Paul Disdle from seed supplied by Paul Brown of Frontier Agriculture. The clear boxes help to show the root structure of each plant - and these will be used again at further events this year. A quiz to match the plant with its seed was popular with the older children and all the children were pleased with their 'love your river' stickers. The event was once again very well attended and generated a lot of interest in our research.

Wild about the Wensum

  • April 2017: Broadland Catch Up  Road run-off is a major source of sediment input into the upper reaches of the River Blackwater. The latest newsletter from the Broadland Catchment Partnership features a report on three roadside sediment traps constructed on the Salle Park Estate to capture road runoff before it enters the river. The sediment traps, which were funded by the Broadland Catchment Partnership ‘Norfolk Rural SuDS’ project, act as settling ponds to encourage the entrained sediment to settle out of suspension and allow cleaner water to discharge into the river. A 5 cm resolution aerial drone survey of the site (see picture) was conducted in February 2017.
  • April 2017: Wensum research shows reduction in agricultural pollution  The  NIAB TAG newsletter features an article about the latest results from cover crop trails in Wensum DTC.
  • 14 Nov 2016: Workshop - Innovative ways to improve your farm’s soil, water and profits  This free event organised by the Broadland Catchment Partnership attracted 48 attendees from Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire including 26 farmers along with agronomists, other farm advisers and academics. Short presentations from local farmers, agricultural researchers and farm advisers focussed on novel cost-effective techniques and drew on local evidence from the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment, Morley Agricultural Foundation, Cranfield University and ADAS trials related to cultivations and cover crops. Farmers and advisers had the opportunity to discuss controlled traffic farming, inter-row and tramline management, and the practical benefits and cost savings they can deliver. Attendees were taken by tractor and trailer to see the Estate’s newly installed silt traps for intercepting run-off from roads and a sugar beet pad. 
  • October 2016: Sedimentary my dear Watson!  Three new roadside sediment ponds are being constructed on the Salle Estate to capture soil from damaged road verges, field entrances and areas of concrete hardstanding that is washed down roads during heavy rainfall events and into roadside ditches leading to the river. The ponds are designed to slow the flow of the run-off, allowing sediment to settle in the pond allowing cleaner water to enter the water course. The sediment traps are being funded by the Broadland Catchment Partnerships ‘SlowtheFlow’ project and are due for completion by mid-October. To monitor the effectiveness of the sediment ponds, new high-resolution turbidity probes have been installed upstream and downstream of the site to monitor how the ponds perform during rainfall events.

Sediment trap being dug

  • October 2016: How will Oilseed Rape compare as a cover crop?  Following trials with oilseed radish as a cover crop and different cultivation techniques, all the fields at the Salle Estate that are part of the Wensum DTC study have been sown with oilseed rape. Field drains will be monitored this winter to see how effective oilseed rape is as a winter cover crop compared with oilseed radish at reducing nitrate leaching.
  • October 2016: Benefiting from a Biobed  A proportion of the pesticides reaching our streams and rivers comes from the preparation and washing of the pesticide spraying equipment. A biobed provides a practical way to deal with pesticide residues that that occur in sprayer handling areas. As part of the work of the Wensum DTC in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Salle Estate, a compost-straw-topsoil biobed was installed which has been shown to reduce total pesticide concentrations in waste machinery washings by over 90%, thus minimising both surface water and groundwater pollution risk. The results of this research has recently been published in the Journal of Environmental Management.

Biobed installation

  • October 2016: How to significantly reduce nitrate leaching losses  Field trials on the Salle Estate covering 143 ha split into three blocks with differing cultivation techniques and a winter oilseed radish (Raphanus sativus) cover crop, revealed oilseed radish reduced nitrate leaching losses in soil water by 75–97% relative to a fallow block, but had no impact upon phosphorus losses. Average soil nitrate concentrations were reduced by 77% at 60–90 cm depth beneath the cover crop, highlighting the ability of deep rooting oilseed radish to scavenge nutrients from deep within the soil profile. However, employed alone, direct drilling and shallow non-inversion tillage (to <10 cm depth) were ineffective at reducing soil water nitrate and phosphorus concentrations relative to conventional ploughing. Applying starter fertiliser to the cover crop increased radish biomass and nitrogen uptake, but resulted in net accumulation of nitrogen within the soil. In terms of costs, there was negligible difference between the gross margins of non-inversion tillage (£731–758 ha-1) and conventional (£745 ha-1) operations, demonstrating farm productivity can be maintained whilst mitigating diffuse pollution. This work was recently published in the journal Aspects of Applied Biology.

Oilseed radish crop

  • 07 Jul 2016: Sharing experience of integrated catchment management  Catchment management practitioners got together with DTC researchers from the Avon, Eden and Wensum for a day-long meeting at UEA. Ger Shortle told us about the Irish Agricultural Catchments Programme that has been running for nine years. This project evaluates the effectiveness of the Government's Nitrate Actions Programme (NAP) which has stocking rates, N and P limits, slurry storage, spreading constraints, buffer zones etc, that all farmers have to abide by. Ger reported that reduction in stream P concentration took over 6 years to begin to be revealed and indicated that the project was highlighting that education and effective nutrient management advice and information (including encouraging active use of nutrient management plans as a management tool), as well as ensuring that the measures within NAP are being followed, were key to improving water quality. Neil Punchard of the Broadland Catchment Partnership impressed the audience with the volume and breadth of work that has been undertaken to develop the partnership and enhance the catchment in the four years it has been operating. Updates were also given on the DTC research. Afternoon workshops considered how the lessons learned from the DTC work could best be disseminated and the further work needed to overcome barriers to ensure better catchment management in future.

Ger Shortle

  • 05 Jul 2016: Beans up to our ears!  Intrepid UEA researchers, deep in a jungle of beans. Searching for soil sampling sites when the growth is this high is no mean feat! The work must go on, testing bulk density, penetration and infiltration rate. With all those woollies who would believe it's July!

Soil sampling

  • April 2017: Wensum research shows reduction in agricultural pollution  The new newsletter from NIAB TAG features an article about the latest results from cover crop trails in Wensum DTC.

Royal Norfolk Show

  • 04 May 2016: Anglia Farmers Farm Walk 2016  Hosted by Salle Farms, about 80 members took part in a farm tour and heard from Poul Hovesen and Andrew Lovett about how the DTC research is influencing practices on the farm. This was followed by a lovely meal featuring local produce and a lot of lively discussion.

Anglia Farmers Farm Walk

  • April/May 2016 Counting Worms  The weather was a little cold and the worms were reluctant to come out of the ground, even with encouragement from a warm bath in mustard solution (kindly donated by Colmans). Earthworms are an indicator of soil quality and Wensum DTC researchers wanted to see if there were any significant differences between the numbers of earthworms in the fields that have been part of experimental work with different cultivation methods and cover crops. As the worms declined to cooperate researchers reverted to digging out 25 x 25cm quadrats of soil to a spades depth and then sorting through the soil by hand. Worms were counted, washed and weighed before being returned to the soil unharmed. 

worm count

  • 23 April 2016: Wild About the Wensum Again!  This popular event celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and our Wensum Alliance stand had a high number of visitors who were keen to try out the catchment model demonstrating run-off and infiltation, testing river water, tap water and rain water samples nitrate levels, hearing about the DTC work on cover crops and taking part in a 'true/false' game about how oilseed radish can help mitigate water pollution. The youngsters were interested and enthusiastic - catchment scientists in the making!

Wild about the Wensum

  • 26 Feb 2016: NUTCAT 2050 Meeting at Salle  The Wensum and Eden DTCs invited farmers from the Wensum/Blackwater catchment to join experts from the UK Met Office for a meeting to feedback results from the data collected by the Wensum DTC team and to discuss weather trends and understand how changing weather patterns may affect the way we live and farm in the Wensum. The meeting also introduced NUTCAT 2050 (estimating NUTrient transport in CATchments to 2050)– a new project that will examine the role of land use and climate in nutrient runoff and implications for future water quality. Dr. Pete Falloon (Met Office Hadley Centre) compared data from local climate records against observed trends across the country and presented information on projected future climate change and Dr. Mary Ockenden (Lancaster University) led an interesting discussion session examining recent experiences relating to changing weather and how farmers are responding through changes in farming practices.

NUTCAT 2050 Meeting at Salle

  • 21 Jan 2016: Cover, catch or companion? What are they and how do you best manage them to gain the benefits?  This Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) event hosted by Natural England at Salle village hall invited farmers, particularly those in the Wensum catchment, to exchange knowledge on the use of cover crops to aid soil fertility. Cover crop use is becoming increasingly popular and this workshop focussed on the pro's and con's of their use, with first hand practical on-farm experience provided by Poul Hoveson. The event was attended by a good number of local farmers as well as staff/researchers from Natural England, Wensum DTC, Anglian Water, Agrii, Frontier, NIAB and others.

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) event

  • 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.

wheat

  • 27 June 15: Visit by new Director of Rothamsted Research  Kevin Hiscock and Andrew Lovett met the new Director of Rothamsted Research, Professor Achim Dobermann, at Manor Farm, Salle on Saturday, 27 June to discuss the DTC project results together with the Estate Manager, Poul Hovesen and Crop Production Manager, James Beamish.
  • 25 June 15: Getting the Most out of Cover Crops  Andrew Lovett presented results of the cover crops trials at Salle to the Association of Applied Biologists at a conference concerning integrating cover crops into current crop sequences in a way that is economic but realises potential benefits through appropriate cover crop choice and management.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

Agri-tech East visit to Salle

  • 3 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.

Wild about the Wensum

  • 31 March 15: Second Phase of DTC gets underway  After a long process of procurement the new contracts for the monitoring component of DTC are finally being put in place. Defra has taken the opportunity to expand the brief and also attempt to bring together different strands of work, emphasising the multi- and trans-disciplinary nature of the work and the issues that it needs to address.
  • 20 March 15: CATchment SCIences (CATSCI) workshop account  UEA post-graduate student Nick Garrard recently attended a NERC funded postgraduate and professional skills development CATchment SCIences (CATSCI) workshop that included several farm visits (picture right from Phil Haygarth) and concluded with a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style presentation.

CATchment SCIences (CATSCI) workshop

  • 20 March 15: Nitrous oxide emission from field drains at Salle  UEA Researcher Zanist Hama-Aziz has been examining nitrous oxide (N2O) emission from field drains at Salle. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that persists in the atmosphere and has 298 times more global warming potential than CO2. Emissions of N2O arise both directly from fertilized soils and indirectly from drainage streams, groundwater, rivers and estuaries. N2O is highly soluble in water, thus a significant amount of N2O may be discharged with drain water and released to the atmosphere. 
  • 18 March 15: Congratulations to Richard Cooper & Co. for three notable research publications  Richard Cooper and other research collaborators have recently had three papers published relating to work on the Wensum DTC. Collectively, the developments presented in these three papers significantly advance sediment fingerprinting research by enabling organic and inorganic fluvial sediment fractions to be quantitatively apportioned at both low- and high-temporal resolution within realistic levels of uncertainty, thereby enhancing our understanding of sediment dynamics under a range of instream hydrological conditions. 
  • 09 Mar 15: Agritech Water Cluster workshop, Wisbech  Agri-Tech East’s ‘Water for Agriculture‘ Special Interest Group, in partnership with the Agritech Water Cluster (based at the University of East Anglia) and Anglian Water, who have an interest in non-domestic water supply and demand, presented a workshop to explore future water needs in food production, processing and packing. Attendees at the workshop all used water varied ways from agricultural production, food processing, industry experts, innovative and agri-tech driven companies as well as tourism. The event started with brief introductions from the organisers: Agri-Tech East, Anglian Water and the Agritech Water Cluster outlining the plan for the day. Inder Poonaji, Head of Sustainability at Nestlé, gave an inspiring introductory talk on Nestlé’s approach to water efficiency and their commitments to reducing their water usage by 50% in 2020. 
  • 10 February 15: The winter conference of the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO)  A session on "Catch Cropping and Nutrient Management", was presented by James Beamish from Salle Farm and Andrew Lovett (UEA). James and Andrew presented results from the cultivation trials on the Salle estate to assess the impact of an oilseed radish cover crop and reduced tillage techniques on soil properties and nutrient balances. 
  • 19 January 15: Climate Change and Farming  The YIELD network held an intereactive dicsussion at the Norfolk Showground on the possible impact of climate change on farming in Norfolk. Prof. Andrew Lovett from the Wensum DTC was the lead speaker. The YIELD (Young Innivative Enterprising Learning & Development) network connects rurally based professionals and is supported by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association which aims to educate and bring together people and businesses to promote a better understanding of food, farming and the countryside.
  • 11 Nov 14: Agritech Water Cluster Workshop, Suffolk Showground  Prof Kevin Hiscock from the Wensum DTC chaired a workshop held at the Innovation For Agriculture East 2014 Conference on 'Water in Agriculture: managing future water needs'. Farmers and other delegates involved in rural land management discussed issues related to water availability and use, to identify important themes in future management of water for agricultural use.
  • 06 Nov 14: 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.
  • 25 October 14: 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: Autumn 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Spring bean crop at Salle 2014

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

Wet day at Frontier Agriculture’s open day at Gressenhall

  • 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.

Checking boreholes

  • 30 May 14: Focus on Phosphorus  The Environment Agency has produced a document summarising the findings of a project on phosphorus eutrophication within the Anglian River Basin District. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires the introduction of phosphorus standards with the aim of reaching good ecological status. In the Anglian Region currently, 51% of all water bodies do not meet the WFD phosphorus standard. The document covers the main points from the strategic report produced as part of the project, and lists some of the main options required to reduce phosphorus and freshwater eutrophication in the Anglian River Basin District. 
  • 30 May 14: Essex & Suffolk water catchment approach film and 2014 metaldehyde campaign  Essex & Suffolk Water have made a short film to introduce their catchment approach to managing risks in their drinking water supply catchments. They are also launching a campaign called ‘Pellets: Products, precision, protection’, to help farmers and operators explore their pelleting options and pledge to ‘do something different’ on their farm this autumn, to reduce metaldehyde concentrations in the catchment waterbodies. 
  • 21 May 14: Countryside Classroom at Salle Estates  A Countryside Classroom event on the Salle Estate was organised by the Countryside Alliance and gave around 800 local school children the opportunity to get into the countryside to learn about farming and nature. Our stand explained the water cycle and problem of diffuse pollution from agriculture (making use of our improvised catchment model) and the experimental work on cover crops taking place on the estate. The children also looked at the variance in nitrate in samples of river water, tap water and rain water. They particularly liked the model with its lego town! 

Countryside Classroom at Salle Estates

  • 07 May 14: The River Wensum Restoration Strategy is the winner of the inaugural England River Prize!  The prize, which comes with a £10,000 grant is being awarded by a partnership of the River Restoration Centre, WWF-UK, the Environment Agency and the International River Foundation. The award recognises the project’s holistic approach to river restoration, and the diverse range of skills needed for such a task. The project pulled together a wide range of statutory agencies, professional advisors and local partners to deliver improvements to the river. 
  • 26 April 2014: Wild About the Wensum  Hosted by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust at Pensthorpe Wildlife & Gardens and back for it's 8th year, this community focused event showcases the beauty and importance of the Wensum Valley. The Wensum Alliance stand featured a water quiz, water sample testing and an improvised catchment model demonstrating water flow and inflitration that was popular with the children!

Wild about the Wensum

  • April 14: Wensum in final of England’s first ever River Prize for river restoration  The River Wensum Restoration Strategy is one of four finalists in England’s first ever River Prize for river restoration. It is winner in the 'large catchment' project category, demonstrating a whole river approach to restoration. The other categories are 'value for money' project, 'multi-partnership' project and 'multi-benefit' project, which have been won by Bow Brook in Worstershire, Haltwhistle Burn in Northumberland and the Wye in Herefordshire respectively. The overall winner will receive prize money to help further restore their waterways back to health for the benefit of local communities, wildlife and the environment and will also be provided with support to apply for the IRF European Riverprize next year. The winner will be announced on the 7th May at the evening dinner of the River Restoration Centre’s 15th annual network conference.
  • March 14: Latest DTC News  The latest newsletter from the DTC provides an account of first results from the experimental use of cover crops this winter in the Wensum catchment and you can also read about the impact of the severe rainfall this winter on farming and the differences between catchments. 

 

  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

Salle Farms

  • 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.”

Wensum Alliance Year 4 Conference

  • 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!”Wild about the Wensum
  • MARCH 2013: New soil moisture probes installed  Monitoring stream water and groundwater levels has now been complemented with the installation of soil moisture probes at several locations across the mini-catchments in the Wensum DTC. The soil moisture probes have sensors at 15 cm intervals to a depth of 90 cm and also record soil temperature at three levels. The data are transmitted by a GPRS telemetry system to a web portal providing near-real time data interrogation. The data are being used in conjunction with the weather stations, stream flow and borehole data to analyse changing hydrological conditions in response to rainfall events, as well as changing diurnal and seasonal temperature profiles. (See picture, above right).
  • FEBRUARY 2013: Catchment Sensitive Farming support for Salle Farms  In 2012, Salle Farms Company Ltd was successful in receiving Catchment Sensitive Farming support through the Capital Grants scheme to part-fund the installation of a biobed for its pesticides wash-down facility at Manor Farm, Norfolk. As an example of a large biobed for an intensive arable farming operation, the Environment Agency and the Wensum DTC are collaborating to monitor the efficiency of the biobed in attenuating pesticides in runoff from the hard standing area. The biobed has been under construction over the winter and the drain field from the biobed installed. Within this drain field, 20 porous pots have been installed to sample effluent from the biobed and its filtration through the soil profile. The biobed is expected to be in operation later in 2013. (See picture, above right)
  • THURS 07 FEB 2013: Valuing groundwater – a hidden natural resource: East Anglian Regional Group of the Geological Society Lecture  Kevin Hiscock explained the provenance of groundwater resources globally, and examined the importance of aquifers in providing drinking water supplies since the beginning of human civilisation, the significance of groundwater in meeting irrigation water demands in the most important agricultural areas of the world, and the role of groundwater in sustaining unique groundwater-dependent ecosystems. Kevin explained the risk of groundwater contamination and over-exploitation and the need for better governance of groundwater to protect this valuable resource for future generations.
  • JANUARY 2013: New monitoring kiosk installed  This winter has seen further equipment installations in the Wensum DTC. During a very cold spell in January when early morning temperatures fell to as low as -17 degrees Celsius (!), a further mini-kiosk was installed in mini-catchment A at Salle. (Picture below). This mini-kiosk is upstream of the fields targeted for the field measures, including minimum cultivation techniques, starting in Autumn 2013 and will monitor runoff from adjacent arable fields that are under conventional cultivation practices. This mini-kiosk was also the first to include a GPRS telemetry system enabling researchers to remotely interrogate in-stream water parameters such as temperature, pH, electrical conductivity and dissolved oxygen in near-real time. Subsequently this spring, the remaining monitoring stations are being upgraded to GPRS telemetry systems.

New monitoring kiosk installed

  • JANUARY 2013: What you see is what you get..  New data from the Blackwater catchment reveals how water quality issues not captured by weekly sampling can be revealed by high-resolution monitoring and aid our understanding of how nutrients move through the catchment under different weather conditions. 
  • 24 January 2013: Presentation to the Norfolk Rivers IDB  The Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board met at Hunter’s Hall near Swanton Morley on Thursday, 24 January and heard a presentation by Kevin Hiscock on progress with water quality monitoring in the Wensum DTC in the last two years, 2011 and 2012. Members of the Board were interested to discuss the implications of high nitrogen concentrations and future weather extremes on agricultural runoff to water courses.
  • 21 January 2013: National DTC Conference, London.  Despite the snow and difficult travelling conditions for many, it was a full house at the National DTC Conference in London, where researchers from the three DTCs presented latest research findings.

 

  • AUTUMN/WINTER 2012: Poor field conditions due to wet weather  The last few weeks of 2012 featured a continuation of the wet weather recorded since March and contributed to total annual rainfall of about 825 mm as recorded by the rain gauges in the Blackwater sub-catchment. The saturated ground and storm events made conditions very difficult for the sugar beet harvest. It also set-back the planting of winter wheat and the loss of some fields of autumn-sown oil seed rape.  Stream flows fed by agricultural drainage and road runoff in the Wensum DTC experimental area led to the flushing of sediment, phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) with fluxes of N and P about five times greater than in the equivalent autumn period in 2011. A maximum total phosphorus concentration of 1 mg per litre (ten times the water quality standard for the Wensum) was recorded during one storm event at the end of November when sediment-laden, overland flow during the sugar beet harvest had the greatest impact on water quality  The following photographs during the time of this event show how roads act as conduits for field runoff directly into drains that connect with the surface water courses. Future work in the Wensum DTC project will experiment with measures, such as minimum cultivations techniques and in-stream wetland features to reduce the impact of agricultural runoff on water quality.

Sediment in water course

The photos above show (a) shows road and field surface runoff diverted into a drainage ditch, (b) a confluence of sediment-laden drainage water fed by road runoff and clearer water collected from field drainage, and (c) shows the combined effect of road runoff and field drainage as seen at the down-stream monitoring station.

  • TUES 17 JULY: Third Annual Wensum DTC Conference:   The Third Annual Conference was extremely well attended - we may need a bigger venue next year! The level of buzz and the number of questions arising over coffee, lunch and tea showed real interest and enthusiasm for the research and we were pleased that the audience this year included a larger number of people from the farming community. So, the hard work that went into the presentations, posters and project summaries were all well worth the effort. The picture below shows Tom Read presenting his research on identifying flow pathways with fibre-optic sensors.

Third Annual Wensum DTC Conference

  • THURS 5 JUL: Olympic Torch on the Wensum:  The picture below shows the Olympic torch relay leaving Norwich by boat on the River Wensum on Day 48 of its tour of Britain.

Olympic Torch on the Wensum

  • 21 June 2012: The Arable Group (TAG) Open Day, Morley:  Morley NAC open day was an inspiring day with opportunities to meet new people from a variety of backgrounds in agriculture. NIAB TAG provided an interesting selection of presentations and a wonderful hog roast and apple pie for lunch. The Wensum DTC stall included information about the project and had interactive components to engage with visitors. People had the opportunity to trial phosphate testing kits and to use a farming computer software 'Farmscoper'. These components attracted visitors to our stall deeming the day a success despite the miserable weather.
  • 20 June 2012: Royal Agricultural College Alumni Visit to Salle Estate:  Kevin gave a presentation on the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment at this event which included a tour of the farm and discussions about the ELS and HLS environmental stewardship schemes for Alumni members of the Royal Agricultural College.
  • 06 June 2012: Frontier Agriculture Gressenhall Demonstration Site Open Day:  The UEA Team again attended this event. 
  • May 2012: WATER ACTIVE FEATURE: Finding ways to tackle diffuse pollution:  An article has appeared in the industry magazine 'Water Active' and provides an overview of the national DTC project and also a plug for the Environment Agency's National Water Quality Instrumentation Service. 
  • 19 May 2012:  Wild about the Wensum:  The picture (below) shows families undertaking nitrate testing and thinking about what makes a river healthy at the annual 'Wild about the Wensum' event hosted by Pensthorpe Conservation Trust at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve to inspire and highlight to members of the local community what an amazing place the Wensum valley is. The event attracted lots of people and the children had fun adding 'post-it' pictures to our poster and used up our entire supply of nitrate test strips!

Wild about the Wensum

  • 25 April 2012: Defra-ADAS-Wensum Alliance workshop:  A workshop on sustainable water systems for livestock was held at Park Farm, Swanton Morley and included introductory presentations followed by practical demonstrations of the costs and benefits of different stock watering systems that do not reply on mains water or electricity or petrol/diesel pumps. Techniques covered included ram pumps, pasture pumps, photovoltaic systems and rainwater harvesting systems.
  • 22 March 2012:  World Water Festival in Norwich:  The picture (below) shows Faye in discussion with visitors to our stand at the World Water Day event in Norwich. The poster features data obtained from our monitoring equipment during a recent (rare!) rainfall event and the resulting impact on water quality. See our Monitoring page for more information. Our stand attracted a steady flow of interested members of the public who saw our 'Google Earth' display of the project area and tested water samples for nitrate content.

World Water Festival in Norwich

  • 15 March 2012: Soil, Water and Precision Management:  Prof Kevin Hiscock and Prof Andrew Lovett spoke at this Centre for Contemporary Agriculture (CCA) Technical Event at Easton College which examined these important issues. Soil and water management has been rising in significance in farming with the challenges of increasing productivity whilst reducing inputs and dealing with the unpredictable effects of climate - including the current drought. With the East of England being the driest region, farmers are particularly exposed to these challenges. The CCA event brought together farmers, advisors, reserachers, engineers and consultants to examine methods for managing water resources and soils.
  • March 2012: DTC Teams and Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers pool expertise:  Practical experience and scientific research come together in the Demonstration Test Catchments project’s first policy and practice note "Creating and applying robust information resources for catchment management." Aimed at policy makers and stakeholders concerned with catchment management, it examines how different kinds of knowledge can contribute to addressing the problems of diffuse pollution, and suggests ways in which the DTC teams can feed their research results into the everyday practice of Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers. 

 

  • DECEMBER 2011: NATIONAL DTC WEBSITE LAUNCHED!  The new national DTC website will provide a key focal point to allow knowledge to be exchanged among all those who have an interest in diffuse pollution management, providing a space for sharing evidence and learning within the national DTC community itself, in addition to encouraging wider international sharing of best practice. The website is being managed by a team from the universities of Newcastle and Lancaster who are running the Knowledge Exchange component of the DTC programme.
  • DECEMBER 2011: RIVER WENSUM RESTORATION UPDATE  Work is progressing downstream of Great Ryburgh Mills on the third major restoration scheme of the Environment Agency funded River Wensum Restoration Strategy. The newly constructed meander channel at Ryburgh End has filled with water for the first time. 
  • 24 NOVEMBER 2011: MEETING FOR NFU MEMBERS  NFU members farming in the Wensum catchment were invited to a meeting, held at the Salle Parish Hall, where they heard about the Wensum DTC research, the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme and the latest results from a project investigating sources of sediment pollution and siltation and discussed measures that could be taken to reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture. Attendees visited the monitoring stations for a demonstration of the monitoring equipment and were invited to take part in the project by borrowing hand held probes that will allow them to measure nitrate concentrations in ditches and streams on their own land. The meeting was eloquently chaired by Poul Hoveson from the Salle Farm Estate. A short questionnaire was circulated to find out more about farming enterprises in the catchment and potential future threats and how farmers are planning to respond to them. The questionnaire also asked about longer term business objectives and sought views on potential sources of sediment or chemical pollutants in water and plans for introducing any new farming methods that could have a beneficial impact on water quality. 
  • 09 SEP 2011: WENSUM DTC STUDENT RESEARCH DAY  Nine UEA student research projects have taken place in the Wensum DTC this year and three PhD students have started their studies. Students and UEA staff from the Wensum Alliance came together on the 9th of September for a productive day of presentations and discussions about the work. The students have been researching specific aspects of the catchment (topography, rainfall, sediments, nutrients, bacteria and management) in great detail. The research day provided the opportunity to make useful conntections between the different strands of research which increases the overall understanding of processes at work in the Wensum catchment. There are plans to make this an annual event. 
  • AUG 2011: RIVER WENSUM RESTORATION NEWS  Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Water Management Alliance, have developed a strategy for restoring the natural physical characteristics of the Wensum so that it can better sustain the wildlife and fisheries associated with a Norfolk chalk river. Currently parts of the river are too wide, too deep, too straightened and impounded by mill structures. The river is also disconnected from its floodplain by spoil banks left over from historical dredging for land drainage and industrial activities. The project involves landowners, fishing clubs and other interested groups in carrying out a series of river restoration projects. Members of the project team are contributing to the Wensum DTC project via the Wensum Alliance. 
  • 13 JUL 2011: DEFRA / Environment Agency Visit  Senior DEFRA and Environment Agency staff attended a meeting in the Wensum DTC to learn about the research activities ongoing in the three test catchments (Eden, Hampshire Avon and Wensum).  The aim was to raise the profile of DTCs as outdoor laboratories providing an evidence base in support of government policy.  The day explored the rationale for the DTC programme as a long-term research platform supporting the UK catchment and agricultural science base and new collaborative ways of conducting catchment research through establishing ‘communities of practice’ such as our Wensum Alliance of interested organisations and individuals.  Delegates were given a tour of the study area and were shown the new monitoring stations featuring web-based sensor control technology for monitoring water quality and discussed measures for tackling diffuse pollution.  There was lot of interested conversation about developing knowledge exchange activities for disseminating results to multiple stakeholders to improve targeting and uptake of agri-environmental policy, and despite a busy schedule and thanks to a knowledgeable and proficient coach driver, everyone was returned to Norwich station in time for the train.

DEFRA / Environment Agency Visit 

  • 22 JUN 11: National Agronomy Centre 'Research into Practice' Open Day  Faye and Lister manned a Wensum Alliance stand at the NIAB-TAG open day at the Morley Agricultual Foundation which was attended by around 200 farmers. Considerable interest was shown in the DTC project.
  • 22 JUN 11: Wakelyns Farm Open Day, Fressingfield, Suffolk  Andrew gave a presentation on some of our work on catchment and land use scenario modelling at this event which presents the latest research in sustainable agriculture and shares practical experiences in organic production with local farmers and stakeholders. Several new contacts were made.
  • 08 JUN 11: Frontier Agriculture Farm Open Day, Woodfields Farm, Gressenhall  The Wensum DTC team had a stand at the Frontier event and a good deal of interest was shown in the project, this is a local event for the Wensum DTC and was a good chance to connect with landowners and farmers in the catchment area.
  • 07 JUN 11: Visit by Danish agronomists and farmers  Kevin and Lister met a group of Danish agronomists and farmers at Salle Estate and gave a presentation and tour of the monitoring equipment on farm. There was a great deal of interest in the project and we hope get some feedback when they return to Denmark.

Visit by Danish agronomists and farmers

  • 24 MAY 11: Water Security Short Course Visit  Attendees at a UEA short course enjoyed a visit to the Wensum catchment to learn more about the work being undertaken.

Water Security Short Course Visit 

  • 21 MAY 11: Salle Parish Day  An open day was held for members of the public from the local Parish, to enable people to tour the estate and learn more about what happens on the farm. Members of the UEA team were invited, and Andrew gave a talk about how the Salle Estate is working with the Wensum DTC project. The day was nicely rounded off with a BBQ, and a good time was had by all!

Salle Parish Day

  • 20 MAY 11: Wensum DTC Year 2 Conference: Progress and next steps in the Wensum Catchment  Around 60 members of the Wensum Alliance attended the year 2 conference to hear about the progress that has been made in the past year. The conference featured presentations on the various DTC components and an afternoon workshop session focused on the type of information/data format that stakeholders would like to see made available from the project, including through this website; the types of measures that might be implementated in the catchment to reduce diffuse pollution and what indicators could be used to assess successful outcomes. 
  • 07 MAY 2011: Tracing Water:  Artist Liz Ballard’s contemplative installation in the River Wensum, part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival's visual arts programme 'Invisible Dust' - a collaboration between artists and scientists to promote messages about environmental pollution. Liz worked with hydrogeologist Prof Kevin Hiscock to create the work 'Tracing Water' in the river Wensum by putting ice blocks into the river that released a harmless organic green dye that turned the river into one big fluorescent artwork. The work was inspired by the Wensum DTC's investigations of water quality and draws attention to the problems of water pollution. As reported in the Eastern Daily Press, some local residents thought the artwork was in celebration of Norwich City's promotion to the Premier league! 

Wensum turned green for art's sake

  • MARCH 2011: DEFRA DTC PROGRAMME ACTIVITIES UPDATE  This update newsletter from DEFRA reports on progress with the research programme in all three catchments: "The DTC project has been picking up momentum over the past 6 months. Setting up 3 outdoor laboratories from scratch is neither easy nor quick; negotiations with the local farming and landowner communities, agreeing access, getting planning permission and negotiating research rights takes time. However, most monitoring kit is now in place, functioning well and baseline data is being collected. In the individual DTC Consortia work continues on three fronts: 1) monitoring and the continued characterisation of sub‐catchments; 2) detailed discussions with farmers about what measures are feasible/acceptable, and; 3) development of local communities of practice. At national level, three of the five components have been competitively tendered and let, and attention is now being paid to meld these cohesively together..." 
  • 23 Mar 2011: The Water Pollution Solution!  The Wensum Alliance is helping out with a playscheme in Norwich this Easter holiday. The theme is 'the water pollution solution'. A group of around 30 children will be thinking about water quality issues from the source of the river Wensum to the sea. The Wensum Alliance will be taking the children out to the Wensum to do some water quality testing with nitrate and pH test strips. At a previsit session today training was given to the volunteers running the project on water quality issues in the Wensum, which will help them design the activities for the children. We had fun using test strips to try and guess which water samples were from the river or the tap!
  • 18 Mar 2011: Chinese scientists visit the Wensum DTC  Visitors from the Agro-Environmental Protection Institution, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing and other leading Chinese Universities took part in a stakeholder workshop at UEA in Norwich on 17-18 March as part of the scoping study ‘Mitigation of Non-Point Source Pollution in China’ funded by Defra’s International Sustainable Development Fund with co-funding from the Ministry of Agriculture in China. The workshop included a field visit to the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment project to introduce the Chinese visitors to arable farming methods and also approaches to water quality monitoring using sensor web technology. The scoping study is a part of the China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAIN). SAIN was launched by the UK Secretary of State for the Environment and Chinese Minister of Agriculture in Beijing in 2008. SAIN is a key delivery vehicle for UK-China cooperation on agriculture, food security and environmental sustainability.

Visitors from the Agro-Environmental Protection Institution, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing and other leading Chinese Universities

  • 11 Mar 2011: Data management workshop  Representatives from all three DTCs attended a workshop in London to discuss data management with the Freshwater Biological Association, who will be managing the data archiving for the DTC project. Kevin Hiscock and Tobi Krueger represented the Wensum Alliance.
  • 02 Mar 2011: DTC Knowledge Exchange Project launched in Solihull  Members of the three DTC projects met at the Environment Agency offices in Solihull to discuss the research programme for a knowledge exchange (KE) ‘add-on’ project to the main DTC programme. The new project which runs over the next 24 months will help to facilitate knowledge exchange between the scientific and farming communities. One of the key activities under this project in the Wensum catchment will be to offer farmers and landowners the opportunity to learn more about water quality monitoring by taking measurements for themselves using state-of-the art monitoring equipment which will be loaned out for this purpose. Farmers and project scientists will also eventually have access to ‘real-time’ data on this website downloaded from other monitoring equipment stationed in the catchment that will help them to better understand what effect various natural and farming activities, e.g. heavy rainfall and fertiliser applications have on the measurements. It is hoped that the additional activities will help the project scientists to better understand farming practices and enable farmers to learn more about water quality monitoring and Water Framework Directive targets and for the experiences of both to contribute to the development of water resource protection policy. In addition the UEA Wensum Alliance team will be taking a display stand to various events around the catchment and county to discuss the work with the wider community.
  • 02 Mar 2011: High spec kiosks commissioned!!  The two ‘high spec’ kiosks installed in the Blackwater tributary are now taking continuous measurements from their adjacent streams. These kiosks pump water into a flow cell from the stream every half hour. At present, measurements being made include dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity, ammonium and temperature. Next week the kiosks will also be able to measure flow, nitrate, total phosphorus and reactive phosphorus.
  • Feb - Mar 2011: Monitoring equipment up and running  Over the past few weeks all the months of planning have started to come together and the project is really beginning to take shape on the ground. Boreholes have been drilled, monitoring and sampling equipment has been put in place and the first data is starting to come in. Laboratory staff at the UEA have been checking the first samples and setting up protocols and spreadsheets for analysing and recording the data. It's been quite an exciting time and a lot of hard work for all of those involved.
  • 25 Feb 2011: Installation of boreholes complete!   Three shallow piezometers and a deep Chalk observation borehole have been installed at two locations in the Blackwater sub-catchment in order to improve understanding of the sub-surface geology in our conceptual model of how groundwater flows through the Wensum catchment, in particular relating to the heterogeneity of the superficial Quaternary deposits. These will allow groundwater levels to be closely monitored and the hydrographs produced will be interpreted together with soil moisture and stream flow data to give an integrated picture of hydrological processes. The measurement of porewater quality in the superficial deposits will test measures aimed at reducing leaching losses of nutrients below the soil zone, and will help Defra in the testing and development of best management practices in the implementation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones. A better understanding of the hydrogeology will also give insight into the timescales over which catchment water quality might respond to surface measures and help develop robust decision-support tools for the selection of on-farm mitigation measures in other catchments.

 

  • DEC 2010: NEWS UPDATE  We're pleased to write after the first year of work completed towards the establishment of the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment and to thank all those of you who have contributed in many ways to our collective progress in the last 12 months.
  • 13 Dec 2010: Installation of the first high-spec kiosk begins!!  AT Engineering began the installation of the first high-spec kiosk at Salle.
  • 13 Dec 2010: Installation of rain gauges and a weather station at Salle  Three tipping bucked rain gauges and an Automatic Weather station were installed around Salle. The Automatic Weather Station will be measuring, temperature, relative humidity, net radiation, wind speed and direction.
  • 17 Nov 2010: CIWEM Technical Seminar: The Cutting Edge of Environmental Research  Andrew Lovett gave a presentation about the Wensum DTC project to around 30 members of CIWEM (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) attending a seminar session held at UEA which fostered new contacts within the local water company.
  • 11 Nov 2010: East of England Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) stakeholder group meeting  Faye Horne gave a 20 minute presentation on the Wensum DTC project to representatives from the East of England CSF stakeholder group, including Anglian Water, Essex and Suffolk Water, the NFU etc when they met for a progress report on the CSF initiative in the Eastern region. This was a great opportunity to network with others in the region involved in the tackling the issue of diffuse pollution in the Eastern region.
  • 11 Nov 2010: Loddinginton Farm open day  Lister Noble attended this event on behalf of the Wensum DTC and had useful discussions with several farmers who use minimum tillage methods on their farms.
  • 04 Nov 2010: Field trip with ADAS sediment tracing team  ADAS are leading a project to identify the various sources of sediment reaching water courses with the aim of developing more targeted mitigation strategies. The project leader, Adrian Collins and his colleague Leasa Williams visited the Wensum catchment with members of the UEA team to locate areas that could potentially be included as sediment tracing monitoring sites.
  • 21 Oct 2010: NIAB TAG Professional Development Training Event  Andrew Lovett attended on behalf of the Wensum DTC team and gave an introductory talk on the project to those assembled.
  • 18 Oct 2010: Broads Water Quality Partnership meeting, Dragonfly House, Norwich  Tobi Krueger attended on behalf of the Wensum DTC team and gave the group an update on DTC progress.
  • 12 Oct 2010: Field visit with local Environment Agency staff  Members of the local Environment Agency team who are carrying out the biological monitoring in the Wensum catchment met with Ros and Faye from UEA to visit potential monitoring sites. Some initial kick samples were taken for subsequent diatom identification.
  • 06 Oct 2010: Meeting with local Environment Agency staff to discuss biological monitoring  Members of the Wensum DTC team met with the local Environment Agency staff who will be carrying out the biological monitoring part of the Wensum DTC programme the duration of the project. Discussions focussed on agreeing the best locations for monitoring sites and the frequency that monitoring would take place. The meeting was attended by Ros, Lister, Kevin and Faye.
  • 16–17 Sept 2010: DTC Launch Conference, Penrith and Lancaster  The launch event for all three DTCs took place at the Newton Rigg campus in Penrith and at the Lancaster Environment Centre. This was an opportunity for participants in all three DTC projects to network and to look at some demo equipment on the Newton Rigg campus. The meeting included presentations from Phil Jordan’s team undertaking the Irish Mini-catchments project [link to http://www.teagasc.ie/careers/minicatchment/ ] who are also using similar monitoring equipment.
  • 15 Jul 2010: Opening Conference: Current Initiatives in the Wensum  Around 60 members of the Wensum Alliance met at the UEA Sportspark to hear about existing initiatives in the Wensum catchment and plans for the research and monitoring work that will be carried out under the Wensum DTC project. 

Wensum DTC Conference

  • 17 Jun 2010: NIAB TAG, Morley Farm Open Day, Morley  Members of the UEA Wensum DTC team had a display stand at this event and made some useful new contacts amongst the local farming fraternity.

NIAB TAG, Morley Farm Open Day, Morley

  • 03 Jun 2010: Frontier Agriculture Farm Open Day, Woodfields Farm, Gressenhall  Members of the UEA Wensum DTC team had a display stand at this event and made some useful new contacts for the Wensum Alliance.
  • 15 Jan 2010: Waveney Valley Study Group Event  Lister Noble gave a farming talk to around 20 people interested in country affairs who showed considerable interest in the Wensum DTC project and requested to be kept informed as the project progresses.