Kamilla Skaalsveen started as a PhD student at CCRI in February 2017. Her supervisors are Julie Ingram (CCRI), Lucy Clarke (Uni of Glos) and Julie Urquhart (CCRI). The project is part-funded by the Environment Agency and the University of Gloucestershire, and the working title of her project is ‘Assessing the impact of farming practices on soil functions: achieving benefits for soil, water quality and flow and the farm business’.

This interdisciplinary research degree project consist of three main parts;

(i) a literature review (“The effect of no-till farming on the soil functions of water purification and retention in north-western Europe”) with the aim to investigate results from recent studies of NT practices carried out in NW Europe and assess how they are affecting the water purification and retention functions of the soil,

(ii) field data collection in the Carrant Catchment at Overbury (no-till farming) and Kemerton (conventional), comparing the effect of no-till and conventional farming practices on soil and water quality, and

(iii) an analysis of the nature of information flow, knowledge exchange and learning between farmers, and the potential of farmer networks to enable implementation of NT practices.

The field assessments consist of e.g. bulk density measurements, soil infiltration tests, SOM content, soil nutrient content (N and P), runoff measurements and water quality analysis. These variables are measured to assess the effect of different farming practices on soil structural properties that affect the water purification and retention functions of the soil. Soil and water samples are collected and analysed throughout the project, so that results can be compared both spatially and temporally.

A Social Network Analysis was carried out to improve our understanding of how the implementation of no-till in England is influenced by farmers’ social networks. No-till is a low disturbance farming practice with potential to benefit soil health, the aquatic environment and farm economy, but is currently only implemented at a small scale in Europe. The social networks of 16 no-till farmers in England were mapped and semi-structured interviews carried out to assess the link between farmer network characteristics and the implementation of no-till in England.

Kamilla is about to finish her PhD. She also works part time at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO).