Thames Water Smarter Water Catchments group

This group consists of three farmers in the Evenlode Catchment area, working alongside Thames Water and Natural England. Two of the farms are mixed with combinations of cereals, linseed or oilseed rape and livestock including either both sheep and cattle or just sheep. One of the farms does not have livestock but produces cereals and oilseed rape.

The farmers are interested in how using no till and cover crops can benefit them in both reducing soil loss and phosphorus fertiliser inputs - having environmental, economical and efficiency improvements. They are also keen to understand how these practices affect yield and glyphosate use as well as pest and weed problems, such as slugs and blackgrass. Thames Water are particularly interested in how river sedimentation and phosphorus loading can be reduced.

The coordinator Jay Neale is a senior environmental scientist at Atkins. Sarah Olney from Natural England is supporting the group on agricultural advice, monitoring and assessment. One of the researchers, Tegan Darch, from Rothamsted is a soil and water scientist, specialising in phosphorus cycling. Charlotte Chivers also at Rothamsted is a social scientist exploring farmers’ attitudes to on-farm control measures for water quality.

Group Topic

Improving our soils

Soils are degrading and affecting the long-term ability for farmers to keep up food production. Reducing compaction and erosion and increasing soil organic matter are the key focus areas of this topic.

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