Additional Support For Farmers To Tackle Water Pollution
The government has announced that farmers around the UK will be given additional support and more funding to help them reduce water and air pollution across their sites, delivered through the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme.
The scheme has been in place for the last 15 years but the funding is now to be almost doubled, with an extra £17 million provided over the next three years.
In recent years, the programme has succeeded in reducing the number of serious water pollution incidents by nearly a fifth, helping farmers access £100 million in grants. The new round of funding will see 100 per cent of England’s farmland covered, up from the 40 per cent it currently sits at.
More Natural England advisers will now be on hand to help farmers bring in appropriate solutions to reduce pollution, such as planting new grassland buffer strips that will improve drainage, use better slurry storage facilities to prevent accidental spillages and establish riverside trees to reduce run-off into rivers.
Henry Pym is a farmer who has been engaging with the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme for years now, helping his Somerset-based dairy farm become more sustainable.
He has been successful in applying for grants to grow herbal leys to improve soil health, structure and drainage, as well as removing the need for fertiliser, preventing fertiliser run-off and slashing his operating costs.
Mr Pym said: “The advice from the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme and the Environment Agency has helped us better understand how to improve the water, soil and air quality around the farm. Alongside the support of CSF grants, we have been able to carry out the necessary improvements to make our practices more environmentally sustainable for the future.
“For example, herbal leys have been a real bonus as they are not only very environmentally beneficial, but also have agricultural benefits from increased intakes due to their diverse species. The herbal leys receive no artificial fertiliser which is a win-win for the farm and the environment!”
Adopting agroforestry techniques and practices could also help farmers work the land more sustainably, with recent research from Harper Adams University showing that strategies like shelterbelts – where trees are planted to change the speed and direction of the wind – could improve water efficiency, increase crop yields and boost pollinator numbers.
Agriculture is responsible for approximately 70 per cent of water usage and consumption around the world, as well as adding to water contamination. But by growing trees on farms, landowners can reduce usage, protect watersheds and retain water resources for crops.
Not only that, but agroforestry can also increase crop productivity by increasing soil organic matter, supporting water storage and infiltration, improving nutrient supplies in the soil and reducing soil erosion.
Do you need help coming up with a new water strategy? Get in touch with H2o Building Services today.