Farmers are getting involved in one of the largest studies of its kind to establish the best ways of halting water pollution from agriculture.
They will develop an understanding of how pollutants move through river systems and will test up to 80 methods for reducing their impact. These include satellite technology (GPS) to ensure fertiliser is spread in the right places; better-designed farm yards to stop pollution draining into fields and rivers; and designing ditches and ponds to soak up substances.
The Demonstration Test Catchments (DTC) project has been launched by Defra, the Environment Agency and the Welsh Assembly Government. Around 40 other organisations are involved.
Jim Paice, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, said:
“This large-scale project will test how farmers can reduce their environmental footprint while continuing to farm profitably and productively.
“Most rivers are at risk from agricultural pollution and one-in-five currently do not reach the required quality standards, so this hugely important research will help farmers make the right decisions.”
The project begins by monitoring research activities in three river catchments: Eden (Cumbria), Wensum (Norfolk) and Hampshire Avon, which represent a broad range of landscapes. It covers a whole range of farm types including sheep and beef in Cumbria, dairy, and arable and pig farming in East Anglia.