Hydrological monitoring data in this data collection result from dipwells installed at studied flood defence scheme, where electronic gauges monitored water-table fluctuations over time. Ecological data contain species sighting records of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies recorded during site visits to flood defence schemes in summer 2007. These data aim to show the relationship between water regimes and habitat potential.The study is part of the NERC Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme. Agricultural Flood Defence Schemes in floodplain and coastal areas were once an important element of Government support for farmers in Britain. More recently, however, changing priorities in the countryside, concern about environmental quality and perceptions of increased flood risk in lowland areas, in part linked to climate change, have promoted a re-appraisal of land management options and policies for floodplain areas. Eight agricultural flood defence schemes, previously studied by the research team in the 1980s, have been re-examined to identify and explain changes in land and water management that have occurred over the last 40-years. This involved stakeholder and institutional analysis, farmer interviews, ecological surveys, field observations and modelling of hydrological and related ecological processes. Generic land use scenarios have been developed to consider management options that focus on single objectives, such as maximising agricultural production, maximising biodiversity and minimising flood risk in the catchment. The scenarios examined the impacts of changes in rural land use on ecosystem goods and services. The influence of agricultural policy, interacting with farmer circumstances and motivation, on land use has also been explored. The project also evaluated the impacts of the summer 2007 floods on agriculture and rural communities. The results revealed opportunities for achieving a wide range of benefits relating to farming, biodiversity, amenity, flood management, water quality and the wider rural economy. The study informed strategies for floodplain management, helping to develop approaches that are appealing to major stakeholders. Historical data on the studied flood defence schemes, farm business survey data and interviews with farmers at flood defence schemes, and interviews with farmers and rural businesses affected by summer floods in 2007 are available at the UK Data Archive under study number 6377 (see online resources). Further documentation for this study may be found through the RELU Knowledge Portal and the project's ESRC funding award web page (see online resources).