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In Suffolk we are carrying out a 5 year project in the Sandlings area to address the levels of water available in groundwater aquifers, and find out how we can improve the quality of water stored in natural underground reservoirs.

The Suffolk Sandlings area is an AONB containing rare lowland heath and forest, which is fragmented by areas where the light sandy soils are farmed for irrigated crops like potatoes, onions and carrots. The area has low annual rainfall and as such there is a high demand for water availability for irrigation, which will increase as we see the climate changing and the risk of local droughts.


Here in the Sandlings we trialled work on the Suffolk Crag, which is a combination of sand, grit and shells left over from the last ice age, and an excellent potential substrate for water storage. We trialled the management of the aquifer by recharging it with irrigation in the winter months, and monitoring how well moisture is stored in the soil and groundwater. We also looked at the quality of the water stored, and physically how well the fields managed the moisture, examining compaction and run-off.

For more on this part of the TOPSOIL project, see the news articles from our archive below. 

Summary article in year 1.

Update and video in year 4.

Final Managed Aquifer Recharge Report in year 5

This work contributes to understanding across our partners in Europe who are working on emerging solutions to protecting and improving groundwater availability and quality. We hope this work and any follow up research being done will becoming increasingly relevant as climate changes impact the water cycle.


Our TOPSOIL project work has now been extended for one year due to Covid-19 and will now conclude in 2021. We hope to be able to disseminate the results more widely in the coming year when current restrictions ease.

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