Southern Water to trial measures to reduce soil erosion

As part of the CPES project, Southern Water are to commence trials of measures to reduce soil erosion on a farm in the River Rother catchment.

Southern Water will commence trials in early 2019 in locations with a history of soil erosion. The trials will look at the effects of a range of measures on erosion rates. Southern Water hopes that demonstrating the benefits of these soil management practices to the environment and to farmers, will encourage the use of better practices across the River Rother catchment.

The majority of sediments are transferred to the River Rother during intense rainfall events that lead to the formation of deep erosional gullies in the sandy soils of the catchment (see picture below). It is notoriously difficult to stop the formation of these gullies. As such, the trial will look at the effectiveness of ‘in-field’ measures such as grassed waterways as well as ‘edge-of-field’ measures such as sediment traps and buffer strips in reducing erosion rates. These practices could have environmental and social-economic benefits by improving water quality, reducing the occurrence of ‘muddy floods’ and reducing the loss of soil, a finite resource, from farmer’s fields. Along with this evidence, incentive payments to farmers could also encourage the use of these practices on farms across the wider catchment.