People Involved


Water Friendly Farming is run by a group of partners with whom Freshwater Habitats Trust has had long-standing relationships and with whom they have developed a knowledge base that is concerned with waterbodies in rural environments including streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and ditches.

The group includes Freshwater Habitats Trust, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, University of York, the Environment Agency, Chemicals Regulation Directorate, Syngenta, Oxford Brookes University, University of Sheffield, Welland Rivers Trust, Anglian Water and the farmers and landowners in the three catchments.

Together, the project team has extensive experience of all aspects of installation of practical water quality mitigation measures which include the implementation of conservation tillage, riparian corridor management (e.g. fencing), installation of buffer strips, creation of constructed wetlands and ponds, bunding of ditches, protection of river and stream crossings, and nutrient management practices in livestock enterprises.


The total funding available to Water Friendly Farming so far is just under £1 million, covering the period up to April 2015. Funding is currently approximately 60% derived from the Evironment Agency Catchment Restoration Fund and 40% from other sources particularly Syngenta, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate, and from Anglian Water. Core biological, physico-chemical and hydrological monitoring is undertaken by Freshwater Habitats Trust and Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. Fish sampling is undertaken by Freshwater Habitats Trust and Econ Ecological Consultancy, and hydrological support is provided by HydroLogic Ltd and OTT Hydrometry. Pesticide work is undertaken by Prof. Colin Brown and his team at the University of York. Additional laboratory support for water analysis is provided by Oxford BrookesUniversity, and particularly by Dr Andrew Rendell.



Dr. Jeremy Biggs – Project Lead

Prof. Chris Stoate – Project Lead

Penny Williams – Research Manager and Ecologist

Prof. Colin Brown – Senior Chemist

John Szczur – Field Researcher



Alejandra Rivera, MRes student at The University of York

– Supervised by Chris Stoate & Dr. Julie Ewald

Using Geographic Information System software relationships between land use types and water chemistry at the catchment scale will be determined.  This study is based on the idea that land use alters water quality. An understanding of this relationship from a spatial point of view will identify whether implemented mitigation measures are functioning as expected, helping to propose new strategies set to ensure the improved quality of such water bodies is achieved.


Barbara Zweifel, PhD student at Oxford Brookes University

– Supervised by Dr. Deborah Pearce

This project is designed to understand how the carbon budget of ponds is influenced by physical parameters.  A quantitative understanding of the contribution of factors such as pH, water depth, pond age, size, nutrients, temperature and vegetation to small water body carbon budgets has the potential to influence pond management and agricultural practices to ensure ponds are carbon sinks rather than carbon sources.


Isabel Grijalvo Diego , PhD student at The University of York

– Supervised by Prof. Colin Brown

Using a physically-based model that incorporates the range of implemented mitigation measures on the Eye brook and Stonton brook catchments the effect of catchment-scale interventions on pesticide transport to surface waters will be assessed. This will help to underpin future approaches to catchment management at realistic scales and help determine nutrient management plan advice to those involved with pesticide applications.


Dr. Martha Villamizar Velez, Post-Doc researcher at The University of York

– Supervised by Prof. Colin Brown

This research project aims to develop and apply hydrological models to simulate mitigation measures (e.g. detention ponds, small dams and soil management) and study their impact on reducing surface runoff and peak flow in the Eye Brook and Stonton Brook catchments.


Soha Alsolmy, PhD student at The University of Sheffield

– Supervised by Prof. Lorraine Maltby

This research project aims to compare invertebrate and algal communities and associated ecosystem services in ponds and streams located in arable and pastoral landscapes. This has been addressed near Loddington by conducting detailed fieldwork in the Eye Brook and Stonton Brook catchments assessing macroinvertebrate community composition, algal community composition, and ecosystem functioning in terms of leaf litter decomposition.


Tom Keighly, MSc student at The University of Nottingham

– Supervised by Colin Thorne & Prof. Chris Stoate

This thesis will determine the environmental variables that limit brown trout populations in Stonton Brook. Suitable habitat availability, water quality, gravel bed sedimentation and food availability will all be assessed and compared with those in the Eye Brook, which is know to contain a successful brown trout population.