Project Highlights:  

  • Agricultural land management to provide public goods
  • Modelling hydrological impacts of land management interventions
  • Valuing public goods


There is increasing attention being paid to agricultural land management interventions to encourage rainwater infiltration and reduce surface runoff in order to improve agricultural productivity, but also to provide a range of ‘public goods’. These include increasing groundwater recharge to maintain low-flows in rivers and increasing groundwater resources during dry periods as a climate change mitigation strategy; reducing pollution of waterbodies from sediment and attached agrochemical runoff; and providing flood risk mitigation. This concept is compatible with proposals for the post-Brexit agricultural policy which includes payment to farmers and landowners for providing such public goods and mitigating the impacts of climate change (Defra, 2018). It aligns with the UK Governments 25-year Environment Plan that aims to deliver cleaner water in rural landscapes, protect threatened species and provide richer wildlife habitats (UK Government 2018).

Building on a land management / hydrological model developed by Cranfield University (Hess et al., 2010; Holman et al. 2011) we have developed a methodology (under the Replenish® programme funded by Coca-Cola) to estimate the hydrological impacts of generic field-scale interventions to reduce surface runoff. This Replenish `metric` is currently being used by WWF-UK and the rivers trusts to report back to Coca-Cola on the impact of farm advice work that they are supporting in order to mitigate the impact of their supply chains in three management catchments in eastern England (the Nar, Cam & Ely Ouse and Broadland Rivers).

There is an opportunity through further work that WWF-UK and the rivers trusts are doing with an increasing number of retailers and brands to develop the hydrological Replenish tool. This would enable the tool to be used to account for a wider range of field scale interventions (e.g. tramline disruption); extend it to other catchments; and be used to value the hydrological impact of different interventions in terms of public goods. The Replenish tool is the only mechanism currently being used by business, at any significant scale, to invest in the natural capital of their supply chains.



The aim of this interdisciplinary studentship is to develop a method and a tool for valuing the private and public goods delivered by field-scale interventions to reduce surface runoff in England and Wales.

  1. Following the methods outlined by the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE, 2018), to carry out a systematic review of locally relevant evidence for the impact of field-scale interventions on a selection of hydrological process indicators suitable for input into the Replenish tool.
  2. Calibrate the Replenish tool for catchments where WWF-UK and the rivers trusts are working outside of eastern England (e.g. Wye & Usk, Tamar).
  3. Re-calibrate the Replenish tool for future climates using the weather@home UK climate projections (Guillod et al., 2018).
  4. Develop methods for the valuation of the public good delivered by the selected field-scale interventions.
  5. Develop a prototype App for use by farm advisors to record interventions and calculate Replenish.

Training and Skills

The student will spend the equivalent of two weeks in each year on secondment with WWF-UK and/or local rivers trusts (40 CTCs). This will include working alongside highly experienced farm advisers, conducting farm visits, creating plans using the latest mapping technology and identifying the most appropriate on-farm mitigation measures.

There will also be opportunities to work with WWF-UK and Natural England on wider landscape-scale approaches, as well as the potential of working with digital agencies in order to develop the app.


Year 1: Calibrate the Replenish tool for three further catchments. Systematic review of field-scale interventions and development of the tool for new interventions.

Year 2: Calibrate the Replenish tool for future climates. Develop methods for the valuation of the public goods delivered by the selected field-scale interventions.

Year 3: Integrate Replenish tool into a farm advisor app.

Partners and collaboration (including CASE)

Level 1 partners - Louise Webb, Senior Adviser, Catchment Sensitive Farming, Natural England

Level 3 partners - Simon Aguss, UK Catchment Manager, WWF-UK & Alex Adam, Water Stewardship Manager, The Rivers Trust

Coca-Cola and Tesco are working with WWF-UK and The Rivers Trust and we anticipate that they will be project partners. However, the short time to prepare the proposal has precluded their confirmation.

Further Details

Prof. Tim Hess, Cranfield University, t.hess@cranfield.ac.uk

Dr. Anil Graves, Cranfield University - https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/People/Dr-Anil-Graves-1310715

The student will be based at the Cranfield campus at Cranfield in Bedfordshire -  https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/About/How-to-find-Cranfield