Dunston Beck project update
A collaborative Dyson Farming project to boost biodiversity
Dunston Beck Phase II
In February 2021, following several months of planning, Dyson Farming collaborated with the Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust to deliver phase I of the Dunston Beck restoration project. The objective of this project was to restore the natural function of the Beck whilst increasing pool areas and oxygenating riffles (areas of shallow, free-flowing water created by coarse sediment) to improve aquatic life in the Beck. (You can read our original phase I article here).
A year on and works to extend the scheme under phase II are in progress further downstream. This will see the river length increasing from 350m to 420m by allowing the Beck to have a natural weaving path through the landscape, returning to its original features and providing some flood relief.
At the start of the project, Dyson Farming conducted baseline surveys by undertaking ecological surveys. The project will continue to monitor wildlife and water turbidity in and around the Beck. The reduction in turbidity means there will be less sediment held within the water body, reducing the phosphorus load and resulting in a cleaner Beck.
(Left) Dunston Beck pre-work Jan 2021. Phase II sensitive excavation works to restore original features and increase the channel length.
For both sites together, the total increase in hydraulic habitat area under the same flow conditions will more than treble (to 24,500m2 from 7,150m2). The site is 3 hectares and once excavation is complete, it will mean that at times, 1.9 hectares will be seasonally wetted to provide high quality wetland habitat. Prior to both projects only 1% of the river habitat consisted of riffles and similarly only 1% pools (the rest being steady runs/glides); following the completion of the second phase that increases to 11% riffle and 21% pool habitat. This provides a huge boost to habitat quality for aquatic invertebrates and fish (particularly trout), which spawn on gravel riffles and shelter in deeper pools.
The ponds, scrapes and secondary channels in the floodplain provide even more habitat diversity which will benefit a wide range of plants and animals, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles and many bird species. The excavated land has been established with grass mix and drilled with native plants and sheep grazing has been introduced to stimulate wild grazing. Together this creates a rich and diverse flora for pollination, benefitting insects and other invertebrates that pollinate wildflowers and nearby crops.
Whilst still in its infancy, due to the long-term environmental benefits, the Dunston Beck project has proved hugely successful, and Dyson Farming will continue to monitor the progress of this site as the area develops.
“Not only does this restorative work enhance important niche habitats such as the aquatic life within the beck but at a land parcel level the floristic sward, grazed with sheep increases the number of insects that has wider benefits at a landscape level with species such as bats that have maternal roosts in the adjacent landscape features of Nocton Wood.”
Ian Willoughby, Environmental Coordinator, Dyson Farming
We will revisit the Beck in the coming months to report the ongoing development and progress of the site.
This is a collaborative project with the Wild Trout Trust and the Environment Agency. Thanks go to Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and the University of Lincoln for continued advice throughout this project.
The Estate Office,
Cyclone Way, Nocton,
Lincoln LN4 2GR