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Brimstone farm: Systems to minimise the loss of nutrients especially P, to drainage water from a structured clay soil - NT1031

There is a need to identify agricultural management practices that minimise movement of soil nutrients into water courses. Previous work at the Brimstone Farm study site has shown that the hydrology (especially drainage status), tillage and other cropping strategies can influence the loss of soil nutrients. This study will aim to provide hydrological support to a research programme led by IACR-Rothamsted investigating effective agricultural practices that can minimise movement of nutrients to surface waters and supply data for aiding development of guidelines for EPD. A range of soil physical and hydrological target treatments will be established and monitored in order to identify agricultural systems which will reduce nutrient losses and cracking in clay soils. Twelve isolated plots comprising a mole drainage and pipe drainage system will be maintained to allow removal of excess rainfall within a 24 hour period; these 12 plots will provide a sound statistical basis for assessing 3 treatments (restricted drainage, wide spaced drainage and fine tillage) with a 4-fold replication. Nutrient sample numbers will be dictated each year by the number of drainage events occurring (strongly affected by weather patterns) and the experimental need. Water sampling in the first few key winter drainage events will be provided from sub-samples collected in the MAFF PSD funded pesticide study; in other periods, the hydrological sampling system will be maintained specifically to provide samples for the IACR-Rothamstead nutrient study. Hydrological monitoring will be conducted over the whole season to determine the drainage status in each plot and support the determination of nutrient losses in each year; this will include continuous monitoring of surface runoff and sub-surface drainflow in the autumn to spring period and the effects of any drainage restriction. Data will be collected through the site logging system and will be remotely transferred to the ADAS database for detailed processing, prior to transfer to IACR-Rothamsted. Water sampling will be provided on all the drain outfalls (from plots) by Montec water samplers which will be linked to the ADAS logging system to provide the basis for flow proportional sampling as required. Sampling from the surface collection system will be provided by a combination of similar Montec samplers and other more simple manually triggered samplers. Sample volumes will be set to those requested by IACR-Rothamsted. Analysed nutrient sample data will be integrated with the ADAS databases by IACR-Rothamsted to provide data on nutrient losses. An assessment will be made of the interaction of soil water status and crop performance to ensure that any hydrological treatments tested can be representative of the wider farming situation. The work conducted cooperatively with IACR-Rothamsted will assist policy development and demonstrate to the industry and farming community that there is a need for agriculture systems to minimise soil nutrient loss problems.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Brimstone farm: Systems to minimise the loss of nutrients especially P, to drainage water from a structured clay soil   (2981k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1998

To: 2001

Cost: £51,400
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution