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Information Flow

Information flows represent transfers and translation of knowledge between stocks and flows to inform the information stores. Ten information flows have been identifed:

A. Information about the river is used to determine catchment impacts, for example Water Framework Directive (WFD) status of catchment water bodies, the availability of different ecosystem services, such as food, fuel, drinking water, flood retention, recreational value etc.

B. Information on catchment impacts is used to inform the design and implementation of policy and pressures. For example the WFD status in water bodies and provision of ecosystem services feed back into decisions made at national and local level. There are other contributors to the policy/pressures information store within the catchment, see E and F, and from outside the catchment.

C. Information on policy and pressures feeds into catchment management decisions. Global and national markets determine choice and balance of crops and livestock, EU Common Agricultural Policy determines the Single Farm Payment and the requirements for receiving this, the EU WFD, Nitrates Directive and Habitats Directive have an impact on the protection of specific areas within catchments and restrict management options, national policy determines the design of agri-environment schemes.

D. Information from the community can influence farmer choices and restrict management options. For example objections to planning applications, use of rights of way, community pressure in regards to land use.

E. Community can inform and contribute to policy and pressures, for example through purchasing choices, awareness-raising.

F. Policy and pressures can influence the community, for example concerns over animal health can influence diet, campaigns can affect human behaviour.

G. Information on weather and climate has an impact on management decisions, for example choice of crops, timing of farm operations etc. This can operate on a very short timescale, days to weeks, or on an annual or field rotation timescale.

H. Information on the farm feeds back into management decisions, through understanding of how infrastructure, animals and vegetation interact. i.e. if slurry storage is inadequate under particular conditions changes in storage arrangements may be made; if keeping cows inside at particular times of year places strain on feed, housing and drainage, changes may be made.

I. Information on the soil feeds back into management decisions. Farmers aim to keep soil in good condition and at optimal nutrient levels. Soil testing may result in changes in fertiliser applications, liming etc., compaction tests may result in soil aeration and subsoiling, waterlogged soils may affect drainage decisions or field rotations.

J. Information on farm outputs (crop yields, livestock weights etc.) will directly affect farm management decisions, and farm income will affect available capital for day-to-day and longer-term investment in the farm.