The first meeting between local farmers from the Eden and scientists from the EdenDTC and Pilot Virtual Environmental Observatory was held on 23rd June 2011 at the Crown Inn in Morland. The need to work with the local community is a vital part of the EdenDTC project and this preliminary meeting was part of building the relationships with local farmers.
The EdenDTC and Eden Rivers Trust introduced the work that they are carrying out in the Morland catchment with a number of the farmers who attended and invited the wider farming community to get involved. Informal discussions between the farmers and scientists tackled some of the pressures and challenges that are affecting the viability of farming in the Eden. What are the key environmental challenges? How do agricultural practices impact water quality? Where can science be usefully employed to benefit the community as a whole? And, how can farmers and scientists work together to achieve a better future for all?
The scientists were able to talk about the monitoring equipment recently installed in selected catchment areas in the Eden, including Morland. Live data on rainfall, river level and stream chemistry will be available from these sites, freely accessible on the Eden DTC website for use by farmers, members of the local community and other interested parties. The farmers showed a great deal of interest in the data being collected and were keen to talk about the interpretation of the information, what it might mean for them and even offers to host equipment on their land. Many farmers were keen to get involved in the project and a number have offered to keep diaries on their management decisions in order to capture useful additional information to supplement the data gathered at the monitoring stations and inform its interpretation.
A continuation of the discussions that began at this meeting are planned for the future. The next step is a workshop focussing on visualising water runoff and flooding using the Environmental Virtual Observatory which is taking place at Morland village hall on 26th October 2011. These events are an important forum to enable scientists and the local communities in the Eden to work together to tackle environmental problems.