At Trent Rivers Trust, we offer independent advice on sustainable land use to facilitate restoration at catchment-scale. As part of our Riffles to Rapids document, Amy Taylor, our Agriculture Technical Specialist, explains the challenges ahead and why working with farmers is one of our main work areas.
Over to Amy:
What are the challenges that farmers are facing?
Farmers are facing a changing landscape of government-funded environmental schemes, where there is still a real uncertainty of how the environmental schemes are going to fit with the farm business. It is still unclear if they will recover the costs from loss of basic payments. Then there is navigating the new private investment opportunities such as Biodiversity Net Gain and Carbon Credits. This sits on a backdrop of climate change increasing extremes of weather, food prices falling short of the cost of farming and trade deals impacting the UK agricultural market.
We provide advice, which is free to farmers, to help understand which practices, alongside grants and funding can aid their business whilst supporting a healthy catchment. We work closely with farmers to identify and work up schemes that incorporate natural processes, in places and ways that work for the land, for the farmer and for the business.
Why is it important for river health to work with farmers?
Agricultural land accounts for a large percentage of the total land surface area in many river catchments, so farmers have the potential to create positive impacts on a huge scale for our rivers.
Certain farming practices can lead to diffuse and point source pollution of various pollutants including sediment, phosphate, nitrates and other chemicals. Diffuse pollution from farming is one of the largest contributors to many of our rivers not achieving good ecological status. But farmers can play a vital role in conserving the environment, whilst also producing the food we eat, and many already do. By promoting methods for farmers to utilise in protecting watercourses, a large area of our catchments can benefit, including buffering water courses, testing soils to minimise the escape of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen, using appropriate tillage or grazing to keep soils healthy to increase water infiltration, fencing livestock out of rivers and storing manure and silage safely.
Our aim is to liaise with at least 800 landowners by 2030 – what needs to happen for us to achieve this target?
Rivers Trust staff have the potential to support the farming community, to give them technical advice, and help them navigate and understand the very many regulations and grant opportunities farmers are faced with, as well as support them to make the practical changes that are required. We work hard to ensure we build an effective and trusted relationship with all the farmers we work with.
Find out more
Find out more about our work, including our work areas, ambitions and journey as an organisation in our Riffles to Rapids document.