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Paludiculture Exploration Fund: grant awardees

Below is a list and brief description of the projects that this fund is supporting. The projects will explore:

  • how water levels might be raised and managed

  • how crop production might be increased

  • new products and markets that might evolve from paludiculture crops

AutoSpray Systems: Develop protocols & best working practices for the use of drones for seeding & crop maintenance in Paludiculture.

The project will look at existing use of drones and explore potential new areas of use for drones in paludiculture scenarios. The project will focus on various potential crop management tasks as well as the use of drones to monitor crop health. The project will also explore the environmental impact of drone use.

The Broads Authority: Fibre Broads

The project aims to ‘unlock paludiculture’ through several outcomes. Through feasibility discussions with farmers, it will identify areas in the Broads most suited to wetland crops. In a strategic alliance it will promote and provide a demonstration of paludiculture fibre products to farmers in the region. To promote paludiculture sourced materials in developing consumer and construction products and explore new market opportunities for paludiculture products.


Coates English Willow: Low impact Willow Growing as a Paludiculture Crop to produce a high value product ensuring a sustainable future for landowners on the lowland Somerset Moors

The project will use willow to produce a sustainable, renewable product whilst protecting and preserving the peat on West Sedgemoor. Utilising hundreds of years of expertise and knowledge of willow and the land, the project will research and develop new science and technology for more efficient planting, with lower herbicide use, and improved harvesting practises and develop a high value product to provide sustainability to farming businesses.


Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group Southwest: Developing sustainable land use options on the Somerset Levels

Explore a viable land use on multiple pockets of land across the Somerset Levels & Moors (SL&M), overcoming economic and cultural barriers to raising water levels across hydrological blocks of peat. Provide an income stream for owners of the lowest-lying fields, enabling water tables to be raised in higher/drier fields and reducing CO2 emissions without expensive hydrological engineering works.

Explore paludiculture to improve water quality, specifically by reducing phosphate pollution levels within SSSI and Ramsar protected sites. To assess if paludiculture can play a role in supporting ecological diversity of the SL&M through targeted use within the landscape.


Fenland SOIL Ltd: Mapping and identification of peatland suitable for change of land-use to paludiculture in the East Anglian Fens

The project will work with farmers to build on work the group has already completed in an NCPGS discovery project. Creating and ground truthing detailed peat maps. Supporting these maps with productivity and water management opportunity data. Implementing hydrological modelling of the landscape to monitor water table fluctuation along with CO2 & CH4 emissions.


Harper Adams University: The Paludiculture Innovation Project

Research and development into the practical field preparation; water management and associated infrastructure needed to establish paludiculture crops. Demonstrated on the university site to use as an educational facility as well as building knowledge around the cropping techniques. Assessment of machinery requirements and opportunities. Collecting data on the above outcomes as well as social impact and value modelling to establish best practice, relevance, and barriers to paludiculture among the farming community.


Lancashire Wildlife Trust : Typha production at scale – from field to market.

The focus of the project is to develop understanding of the economics, practical issues, and environmental uplift of commercial Typha growing at field scale. Many practical aspects of growing crops on wet soil conditions will be explored from sowing through to management and harvesting. Adapting current mechanised processes and exploring new ones through farmer led experience. In support of this other food crops will be grown at trial scale to explore these opportunities.


Manchester Metropolitan University: OPENpeat - Opportunities for Paludiculture and Engagement in the North West: promoting knowledge exchange and assessing opportunity

OPENpeat will define and demonstrate the future role of paludiculture in a conservation and ecosystem services focussed landscape. Sharing best practice from existing and emerging paludiculture trials in UK and EU through direct farmer engagement and promote peer to peer learning between UK farmers. During the project period, activities including interviews and workshops aim to embed paludiculture discussion and willingness of farmers on lowland peat to experiment with paludiculture.


Micropropagation Services: Solving The Peatland Crisis Through Sphagnum Farming – The Green Alternative to Peat

The project will scale up the production of Sphagnum Farming to produce sustainable growing media to replace peat and support the English horticulture sector, whilst also supporting lowland peat farmers with this sustainable, profitable Sphagnum crop for their land. The project will create a commercially sustainable demonstration farm and overcome identified barriers throughout the supply chain.


Saltyco: Typha seed heads for textile production: typha processing, agronomy and analysis for paludiculture market development and new knowledge for scaled cultivation

To develop and scale up the process of seed separation for Saltyco’s patented BioPuff product. To explore the potential to use these seeds as planting source for new crop establishment. In addition to this, new uses and products will be explored for the Typha seeds to add further value to this paludiculture crop.


UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology: Overcoming Financial Barriers for Paludiculture with Biochar Integration

The project aims to build on and expand trials of incorporating biochar in peat soils. Biochar is a charcoal-like product following the pyrolysis of biomass feedstocks under low oxygen conditions. Being high in carbon (>70%) and relatively stable, it is viewed as a form of carbon capture but may also improve other functions in soil and deliver other agronomic benefits. In this way, biochar has the potential to be an additional income stream for farmers considering paludiculture.


Vitagrass Farms Ltd: Paludiculture Opportunities at Vitagrass

The overall goal and vision for this project is to overcome the variety of barriers to paludiculture. The grant will explore the options that need to be considered to produce a business case. On production of the business case a small-scale trial site will explore a recommended paludiculture option.

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