Humber landowners wanted for flooding project

Landowners in the Humber area willing to flood part of their land for up to 18 months are being sought to help with an environmental project.

The Water for Farming and Wildlife (WFFW) project – a partnership between the Environment Agency and RSPB – is looking for landowners who can offer one to five hectares of land near to the estuary to work with them for a duration of nine or 18 months.

In return, the landowners will have the costs associated with being involved with the project covered.

See also: Somerset farmers paid to reduce flood risk 

The idea is to look at the feasibility of techniques that could be used to both create permanent or temporary wetland habitats and provide management benefits to local farmers, such as by helping control pests.

In 2018, the research team carried out experiments on 10m x 10m plots that were filled with water and the change in certain soil nutrients, water quality and wildlife assessed.

These small trials suggested that flooding the plots brought benefits for wildlife and there did not appear to be a negative effect on soil structure or fertility.

The team would now like to carry out field trials on plots averaging 2ha.

Early results

Alys Farndale, strategy officer at the Environment Agency, said: “So far, early results from our small-scale trials suggest that land can be brought back into use with no discernible differences to growing crops.

“The field-scale trials will help us to fully understand potential risks, benefits and logistics of temporary wetlands in the Humber area, as well as benefits to wildlife.

“Turning fields into temporary wetland can be good crop-rotation practice.

“Other studies, such as in the Netherlands, suggest that it could even lessen the need for pesticides, and we are keen to test whether this is true for farmland around the Humber.”

Farmers interested in taking part should email alys.farndale@environment-agency.gov.uk for more information.

The deadline is Friday 14 June.

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