Skip to main content

Rothamsted is pioneering a farmer led water quality monitoring scheme as part of its new partnership with the Environmental Farmers Group (EFG).

 Launched in May 2022, the EFG is a farmer-owned, farmer-led environmental cooperative aimed at securing the best environmental results and financial returns for a wide range of natural capital goods and services. Members of the group have committed to ambitious environmental outcomes in the form of restoring biodiversity loss, getting cleaner water in our rivers and moving to net carbon zero farming by 2040. 

The EFG started in the Hampshire Avon catchment, bringing together five existing Farmer Clusters into a proper legal entity, able to deliver more ambitious outcomes by working together. 

EFG officially partnered with Rothamsted Research in February this year to help farmers improve performance for multiple outcomes, including water quality. Professor Adie Collins has helped the farmers on the Wylye catchment in Hampshire design a water quality monitoring scheme which allows them to understand how they can reduce farm pollution in their chalk stream. Rothamsted has been able to provide funding and scientific partnership from the UKRI-BBSRC funded Resilient Farming Futures strategic programme to roll this co-working out across other tributaries in the Hampshire Avon, Dorset Stour and Test & Itchen.

Prof Collins said, “I am delighted to be co-working with EFG farmers and hope to spread this support on water quality testing and farm baselining to other EFG groups across the country. This number of farmers working together in a coordinated way will have the capacity to make a real difference to water quality and other outcomes from farming as they face the extant climate change crisis.”

Rob Shepherd, chairman of EFG explained, “We now have over 400 farmers who have joined EFG and committed to these environmental outcomes. By working collaboratively like this, farmers can make a significant contribution to the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. I farm in the Hampshire Avon catchment and in that catchment alone, we will lose £37 million a year when the Basic Payment Scheme stops. As farmers, we need to look to these emerging markets to support our contribution to the environment and food production.”



Prof. Adie Collins

Science Director


Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries in areas as diverse as crop management, statistical interpretation and soil health. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative approach to developing innovative farm practice.
Through independent research, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally, with economic impact estimated to exceed £3 bn in annual contribution to the UK economy. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and multiple partnerships.
Rothamsted is home to three unique National Bioscience Research Infrastructures which are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests to push back the frontiers of biology and deliver a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future. Through our investments, we build and support a vibrant, dynamic and inclusive community which delivers ground-breaking discoveries and develops bio-based solutions that contribute to tackling global challenges, such as sustainable food production, climate change, and healthy ageing.
As part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), we not only play a pivotal role in fostering connections that enable the UK’s world-class research and innovation system to flourish – we also have a responsibility to enable the creation of a research culture that is diverse, resilient, and engaged.
BBSRC proudly forges interdisciplinary collaborations where excellent bioscience has a fundamental role. We pioneer approaches that enhance the equality, diversity, and inclusion of talent by investing in people, infrastructure, technologies, and partnerships on a global scale.


The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.