A research project based in Northamptonshire looking to understand how small landscape wide mitigation measures can help to protect and enhance the freshwater environment.

Aerial view of field with large holes dug in the ground for new ponds. River and trees behind.

Freshwater Habitats Trust is working in partnership with Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and the farming community of the Scaldwell and Walgrave catchments to understand how we can protect and enhance the freshwater environment at a catchment scale by using landscape-wide mitigation measures. We hope to tackle the following questions:

  • Can we protect and increase freshwater biodiversity without impinging on farm profitability?
  • Can we reduce diffuse water pollution?
  • Can we hold back water to help reduce downstream flooding?

Building on the success of Water Friendly Farming

We’re building on the substantial evidence base created by the original Water Friendly Farming project. This long-standing partnership project has demonstrated exciting possibilities to achieve significant successes for freshwater biodiversity, landscape-scale water quality, and reductions in flood peaks through natural flood management.

As a second demonstration of the Water Friendly Farming approach, Pitsford Water Friendly Farming is helping us to better understand how easily we can achieve the same results. We believe Pitsford Water Friendly Farming is the only other demonstration project in the world that will describe biodiversity of all waterbody types (including streams, ditches, ponds and rivers) in a farmed landscape – and at the catchment scale.

Digger in icy field.

- New habitats being created through the Pitsford Water Friendly Farming project.

Pitsford Water Friendly Farming is in three phases

1 Gather an evidence base (2020 – 2021)

We collected data on the current status of the freshwater environment. This involved establishing a monitoring programme for wetland plants and freshwater invertebrates, as well as water quality.

2 Install intervention measures (2022)

We worked with landowners and farmers to install a series of intervention measures across the impact catchment, aiming to improve biodiversity, water quality and reduce flood peaks.

3 Monitoring the impact (2023-2024)

With intervention measures now in place, we are continuing our monitoring work to assess their impact.

Where we're working

The project area encompasses two stream catchments in Northamptonshire: the Scaldwell and Walgrave.

The Scaldwell catchment is the impact catchment. Here, we have installed a series of intervention measures that aim to deliver benefits to freshwater biodiversity, water quality and reducing flood peaks.

The Walgrave catchment is acting as the control. This is an unmodified catchment, with no intervention measures, from which we can compare the status of the freshwater environment. This allows us to assess the effectiveness of intervention measures in the Scaldwell catchment.

Pond in a field.

- New ponds created by Freshwater Habitats Trust through the Pitsford Water Friendly Farming project.