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Wear Catchment Partners Host International Conference in Durham

As part of its work with the Wear Catchment Partnership, Frontier Agriculture recently took part and presented at the Partnership’s Autumn Topsoil Conference in Durham, attended by delegates from across Europe.

The Wear Catchment Partnership works to integrate land and water management across the Wear river system. interreg news

The Interreg Topsoil project aims to better understand relationships between the surface environment and groundwater within the context of a changing climate.  Groundwater is a vital resource, providing water for public drinking supply, for agriculture and, where it comes to the surface, supporting habitats including wetlands, chalk streams and the wildlife which depend upon them.

A key theme running through Topsoil, and of key importance to all of the five countries represented, is how to protect groundwater from agricultural discharges.  In many areas across the UK and Europe the soils, surface and subsurface deposits can allow the rapid transport of fertilisers and other chemicals from the surface into groundwater. A common challenge for many of the 16 Topsoil projects is how best to work with farming businesses to ensure a viable farming industry, producing good quality food, while at the same time protecting both surface and groundwater from fertiliser run-off.

A three trial year trial is underway in North East Durham, at Seaham Grange Farm, supported by Frontier, looking at different methods of crop cultivation to see which method allows the most efficient uptake of fertiliser nutrients, leaving only a minimal amount of excess fertiliser in the soil after harvest. Remaining nutrients are be at risk of being flushed out from the soil into surface or groundwater over the winter. Seaham Grange is a commercial arable enterprise, filling the role of a demonstration farm, where other farmers can observe the methods trialled, consider results, including harvest quality, yield and the levels of nutrients remaining in the soil.

Mike Slater, fertiliser technical development manager for Frontier Agriculture and presenting at the conference, said: “We’re finding that farmers are very receptive to improving environmental performance through better soil management and efficient use of fertilisers.  The Seaham project has great potential as a showcase to promote the integration of arable farming and water management to local farmers and beyond. Along with our own network of soil demonstration sites, the project will help us share best practice with farmers, focusing on efficient nutrient use and improving water quality whilst maintaining crop gross margins.”  

Topsoil project leaders Jes Pedersen and Flemming Jorgensen, representing the Central Denmark Region, commented: “It has been a huge pleasure and very interesting to visit the Durham area. We are dealing with the same issues in our countries; but the issues are often tackled in different ways. This is why a project like the Interreg TopSoil project is so important. It enables a lot of knowledge exchange and we make use of each others' experiences to develop new methods and guidelines. The hosting town of Durham and its magnificent Cathedral provided a perfect setting for the conference."  

About the Wear Rivers Trust

The Wear Rivers Trust is a registered charity and was formed on 4th December 2008 to improve, enhance and protect the various habitats along the River Wear through practical conservation and education.

Wear Rivers Trust
Registered Office: Low Barns Nature Reserve, Witton-Le-Wear,
Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, DL14 0AG.  Tel: 01388 488867   e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
A Company Limited by Guarantee.  Company Reg. No.4260195.   Registered Charity No. 1094613    

About the Interreg Topsoil Project
TOPSOIL is an EU cooperation supported by the Interreg VB North Sea Region programme in line with priority 3 of the programme: ‘Sustainable North Sea Region, protecting against climate change and preserving the environment’.  

More information about the background, the objectives and the work packages of the project can be found by clicking on the 'About' section in the content bar on the left. There you can also find upcoming events, as well as updates on how TOPSOIL is proceeding.

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