Curtailing water erosion of cultivated land: an example from north Norfolk, eastern England

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Abstract

Much information has been gathered together from maps, air photos and field visits with regard to a parcel of land in north Norfolk, eastern England. Since the 1930s the field pattern, cropping and the incidence of water erosion have changed markedly. Ten fields were amalgamated into one by the late 1960s, there was a shift to winter cereals, and agricultural practices intensified leading to extensive and severe erosion. In 1982 a new owner decided to combat erosion and over time divided the one large 61-ha field into four, and planted trees and hedges. This not only reduced the extent of erosion and connectivity of flow but also greatly increased the biodiversity of the landscape. There are few examples in the literature of farmer-devised schemes to curtail erosion. Such schemes, if successful, can help alleviate runoff, erosion and sediment delivery to water courses. They can also be used to demonstrate to other farmers and policy makers which schemes work. Once a farmer accepts there is an erosion problem (s)he is capable of devising schemes which work without calling on the services of experts.

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