Report Synopsis

Maximising water’s worth in UK agriculture (2017 NSch)

To manage the risk of climate change more focus is being applied to the rural environment to offset the impacts and facilitate the needs of the urban environment through flood prevention, carbon capture, food production, open access and habitat creation. At present a subsidy driven system provides funding to the land owner to address the environmental aspirations, but a changing market means agriculture could look to diversify into 'land management' techniques which delivered multiple benefits. My topic investigates the potential economic value for agriculture on water and the costs and benefits this could deliver in terms of water quality, flood prevention, food production, environmental and social enhancements. 

Through managing water on a catchment scale within productive farming systems, exceedance flows and water scarcity could be managed to provide an economic saving to developers, home owners, insurers and the public sector, whilst providing a sustainable income to the landowner.

My intension is to investigate the correlation of water management within the urban and rural environment. I have looked at my title to break it down into component parts of research and look at the potential of exploring best and worst practice in each sub-sect, then review findings of all and the relationships these have to each other.

‘How can the management of water in our changing climate provide multiple social, environmental and economic benefits to the UK agriculture industry?’ 

I intend on traveling to Autralia and New Zealand to investigate flooding, water quality and scarcity issues, the arabic states to look at water management and the value of this within intensive agriculture, and the Netherlands to research the economic value of managing water for flood defence. I am hoping to create an ongoing feedback loop back into the industries affected by the management of water, such as farmers, water companies, regulators and environmentalists to ensure this work can be of value to the UK agricultural, and political field going forward.