Our collaborative programme with Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming team is now entering it’s sixth year. During that time we have delivered advice and training to well over 50 farms the Ribble Catchment in order to reduce the amount of diffuse pollution entering rivers, with a view to improving bathing water standards and water quality for shellfish at the coast.
The success of the collaboration resulted the project being replicated annually, with the project now continuing into 2019. During this time more farm advice visits are being made in the target areas and further farm engagement events will be held.
Using our GIS database, we are prioritising farms around the Clitheroe area in addition to those being covered Natural England, demonstrating that working together can have a greater impact and achieve more positive results on a wider scale.
Over the years the projects focus area had moved around the Ribble Catchment. We deliver advice and signpost opportunities with emphasis placed on;
- Excluding livestock from rivers and streams to prevent direct faecal matter inputs
- Improving farm infrastructure to reduce faecal matter runoff from farmyards and fields
Outcomes and opportunities for improvement at each farm are written up into a PINPOINT report and handed to the landowner. Ribble Trust was able to fund some of the resulting habitat work itself under the Keeping Rivers Cool project, while other funding opportunities such as agri-environment schemes were signposted to the farmer.
In addition to the farm visits, evening meetings are held with guest speakers from organisations including the Farming Advice Service, Campaign for the Farmed Environment and the NFU, delivering advice on best management practice, training and funding opportunities.
Further engagement was achieved through the publication of the Water Friendly Farming Guide, which is distributed at events and local agricultural shows throughout the duration of the project.
The project has vastly benefited local farmers, providing them with the knowledge they require to ensure that their practices are not damaging to the water environment. Ribble Trust has equally benefited from engaging with farmers, building up relationships and trust that has resulted in a waiting list of landowners wanting to undertake works that improve both their farms and adjacent watercourses.
The need for farmers and landowners to consider the impact of farm management practice is becoming ever more significant. On the 2nd April 2018, ‘new’ rules for farmers and land managers to prevent water pollution were introduced by the government. On top of this, water quality is likely to play a big part of the new Agriculture Bill introduced on the 12th September 2018.