Topsoil is an EU funded project made up of two local projects (one in Essex and another in Suffolk), which are part of a wider European collaboration between 26 partners in 5 countries. You can watch the Topsoil project video here for an overview.
The overall project is supported by the EU's Interreg VB North Sea Region programme, which works towards making the North Sea Region more sustainable, by protecting against climate change and preserving the environment. With an € 8,453,013 budget over 6 years, the project will be completed by December 2021, however a report has already been produced evaluating what has already been achieved against the project aims. These are broadly around making the region more resilient to climate change, and specifically:
"TOPSOIL explores the possibilities of using the topsoil layers to solve current and future water challenges. It looks beneath the surface of the ground, predicts and finds solutions for climate related threats, like flooding during wet periods and drought during warmer seasons"
The report gives a summary of the work that has been completed by all the partners, with a summary of the work we have been doing with our partners at Norfolk Rivers Trust in East Anglia on page 75. Our projects are in areas where the land use is predominately arable, so we have been working with farmers to devise new or improved ways to maintain and improve their soils so they can be more productive and have less impact on the wider environment. A key component of this is developing a shared understanding of soil and groundwater interactions with the wider ecosystem at a catchment scale, which includes managing water quality and availability within the agricultural landscape.
In Essex, we are working on Layer Brook and Abberton Reservoir near Colchester, investigating sources of sediment flowing into the reservoir, and working with farmers to identify and reduce it.
In Suffolk we are working in the Sandlings area looking at ground water quality and availability, experimenting with recharging the aquifer in winter months to see if this can affect summer availability.
The pages below give more detail on each project. Whilst Covid-19 is affecting our ability to complete and disseminate our results at present, we are looking forward to completing these projects in 2021.