The research has generated many research papers and reports, details of which can be found by expanding the links below. 

Findings across the three study catchments - the Wensum, the Avon, and the Eden were published by Defra in an Evidence Compendium.  Compilation of the Evidence Compendium was undertaken by Dr Emilie Vrain of the Wensum DTC team with contribution from all DTC partners. 

Defra DTC Evidence Compendium



  • Temporal hydrochemical dynamics of the River Wensum, UK: Observations from long-term high-resolution monitoring 2011–2018)  Richard J. Cooper ⁎, Kevin M. Hiscock, Andrew A. Lovett, Stephen J. Dugdale, Gisela Sünnenberg, Emilie Vrain (2020) Science of the Total Environment 724. DOI: 110.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138253.  Description: This paper explores the impact of groundwater-surface water interactions on instream pollutant concentrations (principally nitrogen, phosphorus and turbidity) and reveals how varying hydrochemical associations under contrasting flow regimes can elicit important information on the dominant pollution pathways.
  • Conservation tillage and soil health: Lessons from a 5-year UK farm trial (2013–2018)  Richard J. Cooper,Zanist Q. Hama-Aziza, Kevin M. Hiscock, Andrew A. Lovett, Emilie Vrain, Stephen J. Dugdale, Gisela Sünnenberg, Trudie Dockerty, Poul Hovesen, Lister Noble (2020) Soil & Tillage Research 202, 12 p., 104648 DOI: 10.1016/j.still.2020.104648.  Description: In this paper, we compare the impacts on soil health of two types of conservation tillage (direct drill and shallow non-inversion) against conventional mouldboard ploughing after five years (2013–2018) of adoption within the River Wensum DTC.
  • Using word clouds to present farmers’ perceptions of advisory services on pollution mitigation measures.  Vrain, E. and Lovett, A.A. (2019) Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 63, 1132-1149.
  • Mitigating river sediment enrichment through the construction of roadside wetlands  Richard J. Cooper, Zachary M Battams, Sally H Pearl, Kevin M Hiscock (2019), Journal of Environmental Management 231, 146-154. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.10.035.  Description: Metalled roads have been shown to act as a major pathway for land-to-river sediment transfer. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of three roadside constructed wetlands at reducing sediment enrichment in a tributary of the River Wensum, UK.
  • Riverbed sediments buffer phosphorus concentrations downstream of sewage treatment works across the River Wensum catchment, UK  Ellie J. Roberts & Richard J. Cooper (2018), Journal of Soils and Sediments. Published online 15 February 2018. DOI: 10.1007/s11368-018-1939-xDescription: Wastewater effluent discharged into rivers from sewage treatment works (STWs) represents one of the most important point sources of soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) pollution and is a major driver of freshwater eutrophication. In this study, we assess the ability of riverbed sediments to act as a self-regulating buffering system to reduce SRP dissolved in the water column downstream of STWoutflows.
  • Application of high-resolution telemetered sensor technology to develop conceptual models of catchment hydrogeological processes.  Cooper, R.J., Hiscock, K.M., Lovett, A.A., Dugdale, S.J., Sünnenberg, G., Garrad, N.L., Outram, F.N., Hama-Aziz, Z. and Lewis, M.A. (2018) Journal of Hydrology DOI: 10.1016/j.hydroa.2018.100007.  Description: In this paper, we demonstrate how this high-resolution telemetry can be used to improve our understanding of hydrological functioning and the dynamics of pollutant mobilisation and transport under a range of hydrometerological and hydrogeological conditions.
  • Hydrogeological controls on regional-scale indirect nitrous oxide (N2O) emission factors for rivers  Cooper, R J; Wexler, S K; Adams, C; Hiscock, K M (2017), Environmental Science and Technology 51(18) August 2017. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b02135.  Description: Here, we demonstrate how hydrogeological conditions can be used to develop more refined regional-scale EF5r estimates required for compiling accurate national greenhouse gas inventories focusing on three UK river catchments with contrasting bedrock and superficial geologies. The evidence presented here demonstrates EF5r can be differentiated by hydrogeological conditions and thus provide a valuable proxy for generating improved regional-scale N2O emission estimates.
  • Indirect nitrous oxide emission factors for agricultural field drains and headwater streams  Hama-Aziz Z, Hiscock KM, Cooper RJ. 2017. Environmental Science & Technology 51, 301-307. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b05094.Description: In this contribution, indirect N2O emissions from subsurface agricultural field drains and headwater streams were monitored over a two-year period (2013–2015) in an intensive arable catchment in eastern England.
  • Dissolved nitrous oxide (N2O) dynamics in agricultural field drains and headwater streams in an intensive arable catchment  Hama-Aziz Z, Hiscock KM, Cooper RJ. 2017. Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.11111Description: In this study, dissolved N2O concentrations were measured weekly in both lowland headwater streams and subsurface agricultural field drain discharges over a 2-year period (2013–2015) in an intensive arable catchment, Norfolk, UK.
  • An exploration of individual, social and material factors influencing water pollution mitigation behaviours within the farming community  Inman, A., Vrain, E., Jones, I., Wheeler, R., Winter, D.M., Lovett, A.A., Johnes, P., Cleasby, W. and Collins, A. (2017) Land Use Policy, 70, 16-26.
  • Assessing the farm-scale impacts of cover crops and non-inversion tillage regimes on nutrient losses from an arable catchment  Richard J. Cooper, Zanist Hama-Aziz, Kevin M. Hiscock, Andrew A. Lovett, Steve J. Dugdale, Gisela Sünnenberg, Lister Noble, James Beamish, Poul Hovesen 2017. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 237, 181–193  Description: In this study, the efficacy of cover crops and non-inversion tillage regimes at minimising farm-scale nutrient losses were assessed across a large, commercial arable farm in Norfolk, UK.
  • Antecedent conditions, hydrological connectivity and anthropogenic inputs: Factors affecting nitrate and phosphorus transfers to agricultural headwater streams  F.N. Outram, R.J. Cooper, G. Sünnenberg, K.M. Hiscock and A.A. Lovett (2016) , Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 545-546, pp. 184-199, DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.12.025  Description: This paper examines relationships between rainfall-runoff, catchment connectivity, antecedent moisture conditions and fertiliser application with nitrate-N and total phosphorus (TP) fluxes in an arable headwater catchment over three hydrological years (2012-2014).
  • Tackling agricultural diffuse pollution: what might uptake of farmer-preferred measures deliver for emissions to water and air?  A.L. Collins, Y. Zhang, M. Winter, A. Inman, I. Jones, P. Johnes, W. Cleasby, E. Vrain, A.A. Lovett and L. Noble (2016) , Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 547, pp. 269–281 DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.12.130  Description: A farmer attitudinal survey was undertaken during phase one of the Demonstration Test Catchment programme in England to understand those measures towards which surveyed farmers are most receptive to increasing implementation in the future.
  • The roles of farm advisors in the uptake of measures for the mitigation of diffuse water pollution  E. Vrain and A.A. Lovett (2016) Land Use Policy, Vol. 54, pp. 413–422.  Description: This paper studies the role of various farm advisors and organisations providing one-to-one advice by interviewing 81 farm advisors in three agriculturally contrasting regions of England: East Anglia, the North West and South West.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of a three-stage on-farm biobed in treating pesticide contaminated wastewater  Richard J. Cooper, Peter Fitt, Kevin M. Hiscock, Andrew A. Lovett, Lee Gumm, Steve J. Dugdale, Justin Rambohul, Antony Williamson, Lister Noble, James Beamish, Poul Hovesen 2016. Journal of Environmental Management 181, 874 - 882  Description: In this study, we assess the effectiveness of a three-stage on-farm biobed for treating pesticide contaminated wastewater from a large (20 km2) commercial arable estate.
  • Modelling the impacts of agricultural management practices on river water quality in Eastern England  Sam Taylor, Yi He, Kevin Hiscock. 2016. Journal of Environmental Management 180, 147 - 163  Description: In this study, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was applied to the River Wensum catchment in eastern England with the aim of quantifying the long-term impacts of potential changes to agricultural management practices on river water quality.
  • Diel turbidity cycles in a headwater stream: evidence of nocturnal bioturbation?  Richard Cooper, Faye Outram, Kevin Hiscock. 2016. Journal of Soils and Sediments. DOI: 10.1007/s11368-016-1372-y  Description: This paper presents evidence that nocturnal bioturbation by non-native American signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) causes diel cycles in turbidity in arable headwater streams.
  • Experiments with cover crops and cultivation techniques in the Wensum DTC.  Lovett, A.A., Hiscock, K.M., Outram, F.N., Cooper, R.J., Dugdale, S., Stevenson, J., Sunnenberg, G., Hama-Aziz, Z., Dockerty, T.L., Noble, L., Beamish, J. and Hovesen, P. 2015. pp.85-90 in Green, M., Measures, M., Stobart, R. and Storkey, J. (eds) Getting the Most out of Cover Crops, Aspects of Applied Biology 129, Association of Applied Biologists, Wellesbourne, Warwick.  Description: This paper describes a study on the Salle Farms estate in Norfolk to assess the effectiveness of a cover crop (oilseed radish) and reduced tillage methods as mitigation measures for controlling diffuse pollution from agriculture. Results from porous pot sampling of nitrate in soil water indicate a substantial contrast between the fields with and without cover crops: many of the concentrations in the former being an order of magnitude lower than the latter. This result was confirmed by measurements of nitrate in field drains. Financial returns for the following crop of spring beans indicated that even though the variable and application costs were higher in the cover crop fields, the bean yields were also higher so that ultimately there was very little difference in the gross margins. All the nine fields provided a good return, illustrating that is it possible to reduce agricultural pollution without compromising farm productivity.
  • Contrasting controls on the phosphorus concentration of suspended particulate matter under baseflow and storm event conditions in agricultural headwater streams.  Cooper RJ, Rawlins BG, Krueger T, Lézé B, Hiscock KM, Pedentchouk N, 2015. Science of The Total Environment; 533: 49-59.DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.06.113.  Description: In this paper we study the mechanisms controlling particulate P concentrations during small and large flows through an analysis of large numbers of suspended particulate matter (SPM) samples collected under baseflow (n = 222) and storm event (n = 721) conditions over a 23-month period across three agricultural headwater catchments of the River Wensum, UK. The results presented here significantly enhance our understanding of SPM P associations with soil derived organic and inorganic fractions under different flow regimes and has implications for the mitigation of P originating from different sources in agricultural catchments.
  • Apportioning sources of organic matter in streambed sediments: An integrated molecular and compound-specific stable isotope approach.  Cooper RJ, Pedentchouk N, Hiscock KM, Disdle P, Krueger T, Rawlins BG, 2015. Science of The Total Environment 03/2015; 520:187-197 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.03.058.  Description: We present a novel application for quantitatively apportioning sources of organic matter in streambed sediments via a coupled molecular and compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) of long-chain leaf wax n-alkane biomarkers using a Bayesian mixing model. The results presented here clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of an integrated molecular and stable isotope analysis for quantitatively apportioning, with uncertainty, plant-specific organic matter contributions to streambed sediments via a Bayesian mixing model approach.
  • High-temporal resolution fluvial sediment source fingerprinting with uncertainty: a Bayesian approach.  Cooper RJ, Krueger T, Hiscock KM, Rawlins BG. 2015. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 40: 78-92. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3621.  Description: Employing these two key developments in conjunction with automatic water samplers, this paper presents high-temporal resolution SPM source apportionment estimates throughout the progression of numerous storm events in the lowland, arable River Blackwater catchment, revealing significant temporal variability in SPM provenance at 60- and 120-min resolution.
  • Developing Demonstration Test Catchments as a platform for transdisciplinary land management research in England and Wales  D. McGonigle, S.P. Burke, A.L. Collins, R. Gartner, M. Haft, R.C. Harris, P.M. Haygarth, M.C. Hedges, K.M. Hiscock and A.A. Lovett (2014), Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, DOI: 10.1039/c3em00658a  Description: This paper provides an introduction to the demonstration test catchments (DTC) programme, which was established in 2009 to gather empirical evidence on the cost-effectiveness of combinations of diffuse pollution mitigation measures at catchment scales.
  • High-frequency monitoring of nitrogen and phosphorus response in three rural catchments to the end of the 2011-2012 drought in England.  Outram FN, Lloyd CEM, Jonczyk J, Benskin CMcWH, Grant F, Perks MT, Deasy C, Burke SP, Collins AL, Freer J, Haygarth PM, Hiscock KM, Johnes PJ, and Lovett AA. 2014. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 18: 3429-3448. DOI:10.5194/hess-18-3429-2014  Description: This paper uses high-frequency bankside measurements from three catchments selected as part of the UK government-funded Demonstration Test Catchments (DTC) project. We compare the hydrological and hydrochemical patterns during the water year 2011–2012 from the Wylye tributary of the River Avon with mixed land use, the Blackwater tributary of the River Wensum with arable land use and the Newby Beck tributary of the River Eden with grassland land use. The high rate of nutrient transport in each system highlights the scale of the challenges faced by environmental managers when designing mitigation measures to reduce the flux of nutrients to rivers from diffuse agricultural sources. It also highlights the scale of the challenge in adapting to future extreme weather events under a changing climate.
  • Combining two filter paper-based analytical methods to monitor temporal variations in the geochemical properties of fluvial suspended particulate matter.  Cooper RJ, Rawlins BG, Leze B, Krueger T, Hiscock KM. 2014a. Hydrological Processes 28: 857-884. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9945.  Description: A combined X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRFS) and diffuse reflectance infra-red Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS) approach is developed to rapidly, accurately and non-destructively analyse suspended particulate matter (SPM) geochemistry directly from sediment covered quartz fibre filter (QFF) papers at masses as low as 3 mg.
  • Sensitivity of fluvial sediment source apportionment to mixing model assumptions: a Bayesian model comparison.  Cooper RJ, Krueger T, Hiscock KM, Rawlins BG. 2014b. Water Resources Research 50: 9031-9047. DOI: 10.1002/2014WR016194.  Description: An improved Bayesian source apportionment mixing model is developed which allows for full characterisation of spatial geochemical variability, instrument precision and residual error, to yield a realistic and coherent assessment of the uncertainties associated with sediment fingerprinting estimates.