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Farmers help fight water pollution

[Wednesday 10 Febuary 2010]

Farmers are being offered free advice and support for action to help reduce the risk of water pollution in two areas of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Semerwater Catchment Sensitive Farming Project and the Lune Catchment Project – part of Defra’s England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative (ECSFDI) – are looking at ways of improving the water quality in the rivers and streams within the two catc$$$hments.

Helen Keep, one of the YDNPA’s Farm Conservation Advisers, is managing the Semerwater project, which is being run in partnership with the ECSFDI and the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust.

”The main issue for water quality within the Semerwater catchment is the high concentrations of sediment being carried in the rivers and streams,” she said.

“We are encouraging farmers to protect riverbanks by fencing them off from livestock, planting networks of woodlands and restoring moorland, all of which will help reduce the amount of sediment.”

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Lune catchment area covers about 320sq kms (32,000ha). The Lune scheme is being run in partnership with the ECSFDI and is being managed by YDNPA Farm Conservation Adviser Jane Le Cocq.

This scheme aims to raise awareness about the risk of diffuse water pollution from agricultural operations and to help farmers minimise risk by providing them with the right information, guidance and help to manage and maximise their own farm resources.

Both projects are funding professional, one-to-one advice for farmers who are seeking to improve the efficient use of manures, slurries and chemical fertiliser. This kind of annual nutrient management planning can reduce fertiliser bills by making more efficient use of the manures and slurries – for example by applying them when the grass needs them most. This reduces the risk of leakage from the farm into rivers and streams – a major benefit to the environment.

Workshops, demonstrations and farm walks are being programmed throughout the year on manure management. Similar events are also planned to look at ways of using agri-environment scheme funding to tackle potential sources of pollution.

Helen and Jane are now visiting farms to offer free advice and to identify if farmers would like further professional help to improve their use of fertilisers and slurry.

Andrew Colley, the YDNPA’s Member Champion for Conservation of the Natural Environment, said: “The links we form between the farmers and our partners are always important passing on information, advice and, in some instances, practical help. Constant communication with farmers and land owners in these sensitive areas is all important.”

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