Farming and flooding: benefits of the LOCAR research

An account of the ways in which the Natural Environment Research Council's LOCAR programme is helping to determine the consequences of the changing flows of water and chemicals in southern Britain.

Year of Publication2005

Both land use changes and climatic changes are altering the flows of water and chemicals in southern Britain. These alterations have profound influences on the groundwater-fed lowland streams in the chalk and Midland sandstone areas of England. NERC’s LOCAR programme aims to provide the scientific understanding of these changes and to assist in meeting the requirements of integrated catchment management. Exploration of the complexities of groundwater flows in the chalk and infiltration through glacial deposits on the Midland sandstone shows that water takes several subsurface pathways, at different speeds. These affect flooding and the transfer of chemicals to rivers. Valley floor wetlands play a key role in regulation both flood flows and the release of nutrients and pollutants to rivers. On-farm and land use opportunities for modifying and reducing flows of water and chemicals include changing crop combinations, using no tillage, combining wildlife habitat creation with water flow and soil erosion control, and encouraging water to infiltrate rather than runoff.

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groundwater flowscatchment management
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