Welcome to the second edition of the NFM Research Programme Newsletter!

We plan three to four issues a year to provide updates on the programme for all those involved with or interested in our work. 

We hope it’s an interesting read: let us know what you think, and if you like it please pass it on!

Find out more about the programme on our website here.
NFM Webinar Series
We run a programme of 60-minute webinars to allow NFM researchers and practitioners to share knowledge and experience. You can see what's coming up and book for the next webinar on 16 January from 12:30 - 13:30 via our website here.   If you missed out on previous webinars, it's not too late - you can access recordings here on our website.
Our next webinar: research at Cranfield University on Cover crops as Catchment Management Measure
Miyo Yoshizaki, MSc,  Dr Andrea Momblanch and Dr Sarah De Baets
This article summaries the work that Dr Andrea Monblanch will be presenting on. 
Water pollution and water scarcity are major concerns for water managers today. Activities related to agriculture, which covers 70% of England's area are an important cause of these challenges. Cover crops are understood to  ameliorate the problem but more work is needed to understand the significance of benefits at catchment scales. We also need to better understand effects under more intense rainfall events which are expected in the UK as a result of climate change.

In this study, we assessed the effectiveness of cover crops on soil erosion and infiltration processes. We conducted controlled trials in a soil laboratory to quantify changes in the most important factors driving these processes. A sediment erosion flume was used to test the effects of cover crops on soil erodibility under concentrated flow, and a mini disk infiltrometer was used to measure hydraulic conductivity in cover crop plots. We used the experimental findings to parameterise state-of-the-art models in order to upscale the results from microcosm to catchment scale.

Three different cover crop mixes, i.e. oat-mustard, oat-mustard-phacelia and rye-mustard-phacelia, were tested to understand the influence of the number of cover crops in the mix, as well as the differences in above and below ground characteristics across selected species.

The results showed significant enhancement of hydraulic conductivity and reduction of soil erodibility under all cover crop mixes especially with oat-mustard-phacelia, presumably due to its diverse root system structure and the combination of flexible and stiff stems which were able to attenuate the flow velocity and turbulence.

Additionally, the upscaling results demonstrated the importance of cover crops on the water cycle at catchment scale and long-term soil conservation which were projected to be more critical in future scenarios. Increased infiltration led to higher winter recharge while reduced soil erosion mitigated downstream water pollution as well as fertile topsoil loss from farmlands.

Book for the free webinar on 16 January via our website here.
Sediment erosion flume at Cranfiield University
NFM webinars to date
In October Professor Martin Evans and Dr Emma Shuttleworth from the University of Manchester presented on our Protect-NFM research project. They described their work with project partners Moors for the Future Partnership and the Environment Agency to assess the impact of various forms of moorland restoration (gully blocking, Sphagnum reintroduction, and establishment of upland woodlands) on hill slope runoff production and channel flow.

The second and most recent webinar in November was on Farming and Soil Management presented by independent trainer and advisor Niels Corfield.  Niels explained the importance of healthy soils and their contribution to NFM. 

Recordings of these webinars are available on our website here

If you would like to take part to share and discuss your work in NFM via a webinar please get in touch with us at You can also find out what's coming up on our website here

If you are signed up to this newsletter we will also keep you posted on the webinar programme.
Coming up 

We will be at the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC)  8 - 9 January 2020
Mr Chris Short and Dr Angie Elwin
Angie Elwin and Chris Short from the LANDWISE team will be attending the Oxford Real Farming Conference on the 8th and 9th January 2020.
We will be launching our online farmer knowledge survey at the event, exploring how different types of land use and management can be used to help manage water movement on and off farm.
The survey will help us to understand how farmers currently use different types of soils and crops so that we can create sensible and realistic scenarios and to identify which areas to investigate further within our research. The findings will help us understand the challenges that all farmers face when managing their land. Such information is important for shaping future policy and decision making nationally and locally on how to tackle flood risk.
Our farmer knowledge survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Visit our stand (in the church) during the event to take part and to find out more about the NFM Research Programme!
Meet a NFM Researcher: Dr Maleki Badjana, University of Reading, working on the LANDWISE project  
Maleki joined the LANDWISE team in July 2019 to work on hydrological modelling.  He brings experience of research in climate change and water resources at the Universities of Lomé (Togo) and Abomey-Calavi (Benin).

His work is focused on testing existing surface water models SWAT-MODFLOW, GSFLOW, and ParFlow using for example data on soil, climate, temperature and precipitation, and landcover maps.  We need to understand how well the models replicate observed conditions with and without NFM measures.  He finds the multidisciplinary nature of the work stimulating, for example the interface between groundwater and surface processes. He also enjoys working closely with colleagues in the Q-NFM project, for example on how to manage uncertainty.

Drawing on and sharing knowledge with those living and working in catchments is critical to Maleki’s work.  He interacts with a wide range of partners for instance through workshop exercises and targeted questionnaires. 

Maleki is far from his home and family in Togo but is effusive about the welcome he has received from colleagues in the UK.   It took him a year to be granted a visa but he says it was worth the wait. He describes his experience of working here as fantastic and is relishing the chance to work with university academic experts in the field, as well as those in partner organisations such as the Environment Agency, British Geological Society, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and JBA.

In the future Maleki looks forward to taking his learning and experience back home.  He sees great potential to develop and implement NFM in West Africa where to date it is largely unknown. 
Recent Events Attended by the NFM Programme Team
July 2019, International Association of Landscape and Ecology 10th World Congress, Milan
In July members of our Protect-NFM and LANDWISE teams presented and session chaired at the conference.  NFM is closely aligned with Working with Natural Processes (WWNP), with common goals of restoring natural functions in the landscape to reduce flood and erosion risk, whilst providing benefits to the wider environment.

Dr Angie Elwin spoke on the LANDWISE work in lowland West Thames catchments, followed by Professor Martin Evans on the Protect-NFM work in peatland headwater catchments in the Peak District. 

Dr Emma Shuttleworth chaired a session from which the main discussion threads at the session were:
  • Challenges of observed plot/small catchment scale impacts to the landscape as a whole
  • Location: often benefits are downstream of NFM measures, distant from where  investment is made.
  • Stakeholder engagement and partnership working is critical for effective decision making and successful implementation.
  • Civil engineering approaches are tried and tested but expensive compared to less proven and cheaper, flexible work with natural processes.
  • Multiple benefits provided by nature based solutions
You can find out more on Angie's research in the article below and access a recording of Martin and Emma presenting their work as part of our webinar series here
Professor Martin Evans and Dr Angie Elwin presenting in Milan
NFM Monitoring Workshop
Representatives from the three projects comprising our NFM research programme, Protect-NFM, Q-NFM and LANDWISE met to share experience and agree common approaches on monitoring of NFM measures.  The researchers visited some of the Protect-NFM field sites to talk about the monitoring set up at Urchin Clough in the Peak District, near Glossop and to see some examples of the peatland restoration techniques under investigation. David Chandler from our key project partner, Moors for the Future Partnership joined the group to contribute his expertise on the restoration works. To conclude, members of each of the project teams shared and discussed their experience of experimental setup, data analysis and trouble shooting.   
The NFM programme team at Urchin Clough in the Peak District and example of flow monitoring equipment. 
NFM Programme Research Highlights

Exploring the acceptability and feasibility of Natural Flood Management in lowland catchments, and the evidence needed to support decision making - Dr Angie Elwin, Landwise
Angie is researching factors affecting perceptions of NFM acceptability and feasibility in lowland catchments as a bottom up approach to ‘targeting’ measures by identifying those that different stakeholder groups value most. NFM schemes require continuous and iterative engagement with communities, partners and landowners.  However, it can be difficult to agree on which types of NFM measures to install and where because different stakeholders have different perspectives and priorities, hence vary in their views on what is acceptable. 
Angie has been working on preliminary results from a regional LANDWISE workshop, attended by people from communities at risk of flooding and from local organisations involved.  One of the main findings of the workshop was the high popularity of soil plus land-use management as an acceptable and feasible NFM measure for the West Thames. The popularity of this measure was driven by the belief that it would benefit farm productivity, and provide environmental benefits for soil quality, water quality, and for sustainable agriculture (see figure below). 
Figure showing positive drivers of soil + land-use management acceptability + feasibility.    
Angie’s research is addressing this question: 'what type of evidence is needed to support NFM delivery?'  Approaches to NFM require various levels of information, evidence and discussion across a range of disciplines. Getting the right type of evidence to the right users may well be a key influence on acceptance of different NFM approaches. Both individual and group preferences affect what is considered the 'right' type of evidence.  
Findings from the LANDWISE workshop indicated that first-hand evidence is powerful: experiential and relational evidence were recorded as the most popular types of evidence across the whole group (see figure below). This highlights the importance of engaging with local stakeholders. 
Figure showing factors driving the higher scores given for experiential and relational evidence
Following on from the regional workshop, Angie and the LANDWISE team have been running a series of local workshops with Catchment Partnerships, to allow local communities and organisations to contribute to catchment planning.  

This work is being written up for journal publication.
A powerpoint presentation on this work is available here.
Partner initiatives
NFM Network Scotland
The NFM Network Scotland is a forum for flood risk management authorities, researchers and practitioners to connect and share their experiences. It is a dedicated resource on NFM that supports those tasked with delivering this approach to sustainable flood risk management in Scotland. However, you don’t need to live in Scotland to join; the network is open to all.  You can access the site and register here
Delivering Nature-Based Solutions: Learning from International Best Practice Symposium Report Published

This co-organised event held back in May 2019 in Edinburgh brought together experts from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities around funding, designing, implementing, maintaining and monitoring the effectiveness of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) as part of flood risk management plans. Its goal was to facilitate knowledge exchange between international researchers, practitioners and policymakers. Nick Chappell represented the NFM Programme at this event. The workshop report is now available here.
CIRIA Guide on the Delivery of Natural Flood Management (NFM) 

A barrier to the uptake of NFM has been a lack of guidance on how to design, construct and maintain NFM measures.

CIRIA through Research Project RP1094 is leading the development of guidance to fill this gap which will help practitioners:
  • understand design principles, criteria and design-life of different measures
  • understand how to construct different measures
  • identify likely costs including whole life costs
  • specify design requirements to contractors
  • understand potential maintenance and operation requirements
  • identify and manage project risks associated with construction and management
  • understand the legal framework and permitting requirements
CIRIA and the project team will be looking to engage with those delivering NFM measures to better understand their guidance requirements, as well delivery successes and challenges. For further information or if you would like to contribute a case study contact Paul Shaffer, CIRIA Associate.
Engineering with Nature Atlas Version 2 – case studied sought!
As featured in our last issue, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), have been working with the Environment Agency, Rijkswaterstaat, and various NGOs to develop international guides on Natural Flood Management.  There’s still time to contribute case studies to their update of the December 2018 ‘Engineering with Nature an Atlas’.  You can submit your case studies up until February 2020 via the form here before
USACE and partners are also developing ‘Natural and Nature Based Features Guidelinesto provide technical advice for those developing flood risk management schemes which work with nature.  This will be published in Spring/Summer 2020
Engineering with Nature Atlas - Michelle Bourne or Jeffrey King – USACE
Natural and Nature Based Features Guideline – Todd Bridges – USACE
Publications to date

Alderson, D.M., Evans M.G., Shuttleworth, E.L., Pilkington, M., Spencer T., Walker J. and Allott T.E.H. (May 2019). Trajectories of ecosystem change in restored blanket peatland, Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 665, pp. 785-796  view online

Beven, K. (2019). How to make advances in hydrological modelling. Hydrology Research. in press

Beven, K. (2018). A century of denial: preferential and non-equilibrium water flow in soils, 1864-1984. Vadose Zone Journal. 17(1) doi:10.2136/vzj2018.08.0153 view online

Hankin, B. Metcalfe, P., Beven, K. and Chappell, N.A. (2019). Integration of hillslope hydrology and 2d hydraulic modelling for natural flood management. Hydrology Researchview online

Mehring P., Geoghegan H., Cloke H., and Clark J. (2018). What is going wrong with community engagement? How flood communities and flood authorities construct engagement and partnership working. Environmental Science & Policy. Vol. 89, pp. 109-115 view online

Metcalfe, P., Beven, K., Hankin, B. and Lamb, R. (2018). A new method, with application, for analysis of the impacts on flood risk of widely distributed enhanced hillslope storage, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2589-2605,, 2018. view online

Neumann, J., Arnal, L., Magnusson, L. and Cloke, H. (2018) The 2013/14 Thames basin floods: do improved meteorological forecasts lead to more skilful hydrological forecasts at seasonal timescales? Journal of Hydrometeorology, 19. pp. 1059­1075. ISSN 1525­7541 doi: view online

Neumann, J., Arnal, L., Emerton, R., Griffith, H., Hyslop, S., Theofanidi, S. and Cloke, H. (2018) Can seasonal hydrological forecasts inform local decisions and actions? A decision-making activity. Geoscience Communications, 1. pp. 35-57. ISSN 2569-7110 doi: view online

Shuttleworth E.L., Evans M.G., Shuttleworth E.L., Pilkington M., Spencer T., Walker J., Milledge D. and Allott T.E.H., (2019). Restoration of blanket peat moorland delays stormflow from hillslopes and reduces peak discharge. Journal of Hydrology X, Vol 2. pp. 1-14  view online. Emma Shuttleworth explains the findings in a video here

Wendler, J. and Shuttleworth, E.L. (2019). Downpour!–Flood risk communication through interactive immersive street games. Research for All3(1), pp.18-24. view online 

Please contribute to this newsletter!
If you have suggestions for articles, please let us know at email:

And finally, from all of us at the NFM research programme, merry Christmas and a happy new year!
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NERC NFM Programme · Department of Geography & Environmental Science · University of Reading · Reading, Berkshire RG6 6DW · United Kingdom

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