Lucy Sly – PEF Project Officer
On Wednesday 5th December, Fenland SOIL coordinated the first Farmer’s Dialogue Event of the winter. This was held at Welney Wetland Centre on the Ouse Washes, which is run by WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust). It was attended by Fenland SOIL farmer members along with industry consultants and researchers, including UKCEH who provided a workshop on the uses of Biochar. They are currently researching the benefits of biochar, and also investigating how it may be applied to Paludiculture systems as part of the Paludiculture Exploration Fund (PEF). Biochar refers to organic material that is carbonised using high temperatures between 300-1000°C in a process called pyrolysis. It is carbon rich and largely resistant to decomposition, which means it acts as a good carbon store. More information about UKCEH’s project involving biochar can be found here: PEF-Biochar | UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (ceh.ac.uk).
This was followed by an overview of WWT’s work on Lady Fen, which is former arable land adjacent to the Ouse Washes. This area of wetland creation is designed to provide a vital habitat for many bird species when the Ouse Washes are flooded and become too deep. A quick walk across the Hundred Foot took us to the main observatory overlooking the washes, where there were mainly pochard ducks, which were joined by a few tufted ducks and whooper swans that were keen to join in with the feeding!
Many thanks to Jo and the team for hosting us and to Jenny and the team from UKCEH for their workshop on Biochar.
The next Farmer’s Dialogue Event will involve a visit to the Norfolk Broads Authority on Tuesday 16th January 2024. There will be more details to follow, and we hope to see you all there!