It’s all over October! – Insights from our intern, Hannah

And in the blink of an eye, 5 months is over!

This final month, in preparation for the end of my internship and the 6 weeks our Community Engagement Officer, Maddy, is away for over winter, I have been super busy creating educational social media content ready to post once a week until January to keep up a consistent social media presence!

I have also had the great opportunity to go on two farm visits, one with our farming officer, Sara, checking the farms had completed their end of our contracts with them to reduce agricultural run-off, and another was a visit to a micro-dairy farm. The visit to the micro dairy was very interesting indeed. With the farm only having 10 dairy cows and a handful of beef cattle. The vegetation (not just grass!!) in the fields was allowed to grow up to standing height before cows were sent in on rotation throughout the field, trampling down the excess growth back into the ground, adding nutrients and organic matter back into the soil.

As we went around the farm we carried out compaction testing, digging out a spadeful of soil to check how compacted the soil is. The first one we did, it was clear the soil was lovely and healthy; nice and crumbly, deep roots, good colour and smell … as opposed to compacted soil which has ridged edges, a shallow root system and maybe even a bad smell or off-colour. Soil compaction heavily limits the growth of vegetation (and thus limiting a farm’s food growth) as the vegetation can only grow as tall as its roots are deep.

It’s important to state that this style of farming is of course not accessible to all farmers, and the farmers stated they suspect they are only able to farm this way due to having other forms of income besides the farm.

Another exciting day out in my final week was the day out I spent with Peter, our CEO (especially exciting as his days are mostly spent in the office doing official CEO stuff…). We first tested out our new turbidity kit, beginning at the top end of the River Alyn, working our way downstream, hoping to find increasingly turbid waters as we went. The testing is supposed to be carried out during heavy rain … which the forecast suggested, but it turned out to be quite a dry day. Therefore, we did not see the expected results so will have to try again later to check if that is the reality or not!

That final day we also had the treat of going to visit the Mold Wastewater Treatment Works for an open day. A very exciting visit seeing what happens to our wastewater from start to finish. The process begins with a large cog-filter removing large pieces of waste which shouldn’t be in the system, e.g. wet wipes or plastic items. The waste then goes through several treatment systems; adding ferric oxide to reduce phosphate, separating the sludge from the water, aerating the waste with bacteria to break down the matter, and finally filtering the water one last time and the water is ready to leave the works and re-enter the river. In the final stage, the water is tested through a constant measuring device, sending data to the lab and flagged if anything is over the limit. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the treatment process of our waste, as well as the steps water companies take to reduce the environmental impacts of our waste, and also the issues still present in the system.

And then my final day was over! It has been a fantastic 5 months full of learning, skill sharing, networking and connection making. I’m very grateful to all of the volunteers and trustees who have made all our events such joy to attend and of course to all the staff members of Welsh Dee Trust for the chance to work alongside them!