This case study addresses challenges for sustainable arable cropping in the Welland River Valley, with a focus on catchment management to improve water quality.
VALERIE themes covered:
1. Crop rotation, soil cover management and integrated pest management ►
2. Eco-system and social services in agriculture and forestry ►
3. The management of agricultural soils as integrated agro-ecological systems ►
The Welland Valley Partnership is driven in part by the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and brings together stakeholders in the River Welland catchment and its tributaries. It undertakes river enhancement activities to benefit both the local community and wildlife. Farmers in the river basin are given support to improve water quality, ecology and the sustainability of their cropping systems.
Location: Welland valley in the East Midlands region of England, UK
Main land use: arable production- cereals and break crops such as oilseed rape and beans
Stakeholders: government agencies, farming representative groups, water company, agronomists, agricultural adviser and farmers
o Optimising crop nutrient uptake
o The role and importance of trace elements in crop production and nutrient use efficiency
o Soil management and crop rotations to improve resilience to climate change
o Cover cropping
Case study updates:
• A kick off meeting was held in summer 2014, which included four stakeholder farmers keen to progress and be involved with on-farm demonstrations of innovative farming practices.
• A second meeting took place in mid-January 2015 with the focus on the farmer stakeholders. Interactive sessions reviewed two VALERIE innovation factsheets and identified a key topic which the farmers would like to investigate further in field scale trials. These would act as a demonstration for other farmers involved in the Welland Valley Partnership project. The topics for the field trials, and a farmer lead and demonstration site was agreed.
• Issue to be addressed in the field trials:
o Investigate the use of biological additions / trace elements to help release nutrients which are locked up in the soil
• The trial will be hosted by four farmers in the upper Welland river basin with the work linked to other initiatives of the Welland Valley Partnership, providing additional opportunities for knowledge exchange with stakeholders. The trial aims are:
o To explore the relative value of non-inversion tillage and applied biological cultures for mobilisation of soil phosphorus
• Trials commenced in autumn 2015 and will be repeated in autumn 2016.