The Added Value of the DTC Platform

The research communities, monitoring infrastructure and data generated by the core DTC projects support a number of satellite projects to test mitigation measures and further understand the physical, ecological and social functioning of river catchments (Figure 2).  Activities hosted on the DTC research platform are funded by Defra and other organisations.  Significant in-kind contributions are provided by the Rivers Trusts and farmers from various sources.  Annex 1 gives further details of the work supported by Defra’s investment in the DTC platform.  The on-farm measures that are being tested have been funded from several sources.

There is a growing number of research projects funded from outside of the core DTC budget using the facilities and the accumulated knowledge developed and assimilated by the DTC project. These are adding to the accumulating knowledge and understanding and helping to establish a linked inter- and multidisciplinary research community. Some examples include:

 Research Councils and Universities:

  • The British Geological Survey (BGS) contributing funds to augment the installation of boreholes, geological core sampling and chemical analysis of pore waters and groundwaters and undertaking surveys of shallow groundwater sources and hydrochemistry. (£320k)
  • Two NERC Macronutrients Cycle thematic programme research projects working on the Hampshire Avon, investigating the role of lateral exchange in modulating the seaward flux of C, N and P and examining macronutrient fluxes and impacts in Christchurch harbour. (£4M)
  • An ESRC project based in the Eden and Wensum on ‘Spatially targeted and coordinated regulation of agricultural externalities: An economic perspective’.
  • The NERC Environmental Virtual Observatory built on the Eden DTC to develop decision support and knowledge management tools. (£1.5M)
  • A NERC “Changing Water Cycles” project. (£2M)
  • Nearly 30 PhD projects and post-doctoral research fellows engaged across the DTC catchments that are funded through a variety of sources (including matched DTC and university funds). Their outputs are adding value to our accumulated understanding of the land/water interactions and systems and building partnerships with stakeholder groups such as the Rivers Trusts.

Defra are investing in a number of research projects including work on sediment source tracing and the Measures Component of DTC which is dependent on the continuation of monitoring (£1.5M)

Environment Agency/ Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF):
There are a number of linked initiatives between the EA and/or CSF and the DTC consortia that have taken place or are in progress. Amongst them are:

  • CSF supporting a study of the effectiveness of a biobed for attenuating the runoff of pesticides at a wash-down facility in a DTC farmyard.
    • Helping knowledge exchange between DTC and CSF. In an attempt to find out what CSFOs needed by way of evidence, and where gaps could be plugged by generating, accessing or synthesising the evidence a team from University of Exeter and ADAS (part of the Avon DTC research consortia) ran 3 workshops with CSFOs using a facilitated discussion. The resultant report details 95 individual ‘asks’ gleaned from the sessions.
    • Targeting faecal indicator organism sources within a catchment in relation to their relative impact on bathing/shellfish waters is a project arising from these workshops.
    • Combining remote sensing with local knowledge to guide catchment work reducing diffuse pollution from farming. This project will produce a set of spatial data outputs (maps) developed collaboratively with farmers to; help increase involvement in diffuse pollution (DP) schemes and to help select and target mitigation options within the landscape.
    • Catchment Matcher is a spatial data tool being developed through the DTC project (led by UEA) that will allow river catchments to be compared to one another in a flexible fashion. The tool will help the ‘read across’/extrapolation of results from one catchment to others that are similar where data may not exist.
    • A PhD at UEA (Andrew Lovett/ Emilie Vrain of the Wensum DTC) on the ‘Role of Farm Advisors in Improving the Uptake of Measures’ is using CSF data and CSF is benefitting from the analysis of measures take-up through different agents and schemes.
    • DTC and CSF biologists are networking over analysis techniques for biological improvements in relation to diffuse pollution studies.
    • CSF and Regional EA survey work on pesticides is being synthesised with the Wensum DTC work.
    • CSFOs in the three DTC catchments are working closely with the research groups on tackling local issues in the study areas. CSF has provided some grants for measures being tested as part of the DTC work.
    • The EA has supplied monitoring technology and in kind contributions in terms of staff time during the design and setup to the DTC research consortia. Feedback from the use of this equipment will be useful in further developments for diffuse pollution operational work.
    • The EA is augmenting ecological surveying and sample analysis on two of the DTC catchments.
    • Sediment fingerprinting guide – CSF and others have successfully used a variety of fingerprinting techniques to characterise sediment and phosphorus sources in priority catchments, which are developing into powerful tools for catchment scale diffuse pollution management. A synthesis of the different techniques in an accessible guide form will greatly benefit CSFOs undertaking these studies in their catchments.
    • An investigation into influencing farmers in relation to CSF is being undertaken by The Exeter University Social Science team, part of the DTC research consortia. The aim of this project is to suggest practical ways to predict the likely successful influencing of different farmer ‘types’ (sector/regions etc.) by the CSF (voluntary) approach.

 Water Industry:

  • The Environment Agency and Anglian Water are supporting a survey of pesticides in the Wensum catchment. (£30k)
  • Links with Southwest Water’s Upstream Thinking project on the Tamar is funding the mitigation measures that DTC is testing on the Tamar. (£500k)
  • Farmers’ in-kind contributions across the DTC catchments have been significant in helping to characterise the catchment areas and helping to install mitigation measures.  In some cases farmers are funding additional experimental measures themselves.  (c. £75-100k)

Farming Industry:

  • An agronomy consultancy is assisting with soil moisture monitoring in hosting and providing field support for its web-based sensor system.
  • The partnership between Eden DTC, Newton Rigg College and Eden Rivers Trust is bringing the following benefits:
  • Demonstrating the benefits of simple on farm measures for farm businesses and environment
  • Educating the next generation of land managers through the demonstration centre at Newton Rigg.
  • Trialling novel high-risk or uncertain measures on the college farm (e.g. experimenting with cattle dietary nutrients, precision farming etc).

Non-governmental Organisations/Charities:

  • The Morland Beck mitigation plan in the Eden has been jointly developed between the Eden Rivers Trust (ERT) and DTC researchers, pooling ideas and resources to provide a more coordinated, efficient solution – better faster outcomes. This has brought in additional resources to deliver mitigation measures in the Morland DTC sub-catchment. (c. £55k)
  • In the Eden (Pow experimental area) the DTC evidence and presence in the area has helped develop the Pow Beck Catchment Restoration Fund project, which is now addressing issues of P and sediment in the sub-catchment. (£370k)
  • In the Eden (Dacre experimental area) we have been able to link the Eden DTC initiative with the ALFA (Adaptive Land use for Flood Alleviation) project to address surface runoff impacts on both water quality and flood risk (£200k).
  • The Eden DTC project has linked with ERT’s own biological monitoring (e.g. fisheries and crayfish surveys) to build a more complete picture and develop a fuller understanding of the impacts of agricultural diffuse pollution on the ecology of the river. The Eden DTC provides a conduit to link the wider catchment community with academics to answer key questions from the community and provide evidence to support management decisions on the ground.

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