Soil Surveys, Environmental Assessment & Land Management

Land Research - Case Study

Shropshire Groundwater Scheme

In 1979 Severn Trent Water Authority published detailed proposals to increase flows in the River Severn during dry summers by pumping groundwater held underground in sandstone aquifers into the river in Shropshire. As a result of widespread concerns by the farming community into possible effects of lowered groundwater on crop growth, 18 soil moisture monitoring sites were established monitored by dip wells, neutron probe moisture measurements and tensiometer arrays. When the Scheme was permitted in 1981 a planning condition required the continuation of soil moisture and groundwater monitoring.


LRA’s director Malcolm Reeve had been involved in advice and interpretation of the results from the soil moisture monitoring network in the 1980s and LRA was subsequently retained by the Environment Agency to represent the interests of members of the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association, who remained concerned about possible impacts on soil moisture and, consequently, on crop yields. 

The work involved:

  • Reviewing monitoring site locations for Phase 5 of the Scheme
  • Liaising with ADAS over preparation of risk maps for the Scheme based on geology, soils, groundwater levels and a digital elevation model
  • Considering a compensation claim from a landowner for derogation of a drinking water borehole on his property
  • Investigating alternative technologies to the neutron probe for soil moisture measurement, supervising installation of access tubes for a capacitance probe, developing protocols for probe calibration and reviewing initial results from the two measurement methods
  • Presenting annual reports to the Scheme’s steering group members

The risk maps produced by the project were used to better target future soil moisture monitoring towards high risk sites and provide an initial basis for considering future compensation claims for crop losses.

Land Research Associates are experts in soil hydrology and soil physics, and are able to offer detailed specialist advice on a range of groundwater and drainage-related projects in partnership with Envireau Water.  For further information contact us on +44 (0)1509 670570 or email