Forty farmers attended an evening meeting on 19th October in Waddington to discuss farming in wet weather conditions after Lancashire experienced its 11th wettest summer since records began.

The farmers meeting was organised by the Ribble Rivers Trust in partnership with Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming Programme.

The wet conditions over summer have created many problems for farmers in the Ribble Catchment.  Saturated land has made accessing fields very difficult and many livestock farmers have extra manure and slurry to deal with, whilst trying to avoid negative environmental impacts.

Speakers at the farmers meeting included Sarah Bolton, Agricultural Project Officer for the Ribble Rivers Trust, Neville Pearson, former ADAS soil and water consultant, Michael Graham, Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming coordinator and Louise Kite from Lancashire County Council.

Topics of discussion included ways to reduce diffuse pollution in watercourses, improvement of soil structure and how to access grants to help fund the improvement works.

Sarah Bolton from the Ribble Rivers Trust said, “We really wanted to stress to farmers the importance of observing good practice when spreading slurry and to seek advice if they have any concerns.  The Environment Agency offers practical guidance to farmers to help them avoid the risk of water pollution, the phone number to ring is 03708 506 506.”

Neville Pearson added, “Soil structure plays a big part in how water drains from the land and it should be regularly assessed for compaction.  If poor soil structure is identified, Defra’s Rural Services Helpline provides professional guidance on how to rectify the issues.  Their number is 03000 200 301.”

Farmers were advised to contact Michael Graham from Natural England on 07770 700 830 about opportunities for one-to-one training and advice about nutrient and manure management planning, soil husbandry and water management. 

The Ribble Rivers Trust is also offering free confidential farm audits to identify opportunities that could reduce pollution and help farmers make cost savings as the same time.  Anyone interested in a visit can contact Sarah Bolton on 01200 444452.

Waterlogged field

The Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) is a local environmental charity established in 1997 to protect and restore the rivers, streams and watercourses within the Ribble catchment and to raise public awareness of the value of our local rivers and streams. The Ribble catchment is the area of land that is drained by the River Ribble and its major tributaries; the Hodder, Calder and Darwen. It covers a varied landscape, from the rural hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the source of the River Ribble, to major urban areas of Lancashire including Blackburn, Burnley and Preston. For more information visit https://ribbletrust.org.uk