Catchment Sensitive Farming funding almost doubled to help farmers tackle water pollution

The recent Rivercide documentary highlighted the huge impact that farming continues to have on water pollution in surrounding watercourses.

And today the government has announced that funding for the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme – which helps farmers tackle pollution which results from manure, fertiliser and soil running off into rivers when it rains – will now be almost doubled, with an additional £17m over the next three years.

The increase means the new annual budget for the programme – a partnership between Defra, Natural England and the Environment Agency – will be £30m, up from £16.6m in 2020/21.

The programme has already been in place for 15 years, offering farmers free 1-2-1 advice to help them, amongst other things, reduce water and air pollution through management of farmyard manure and soils.

The additional funding will provide more Natural England advisers to help farmers to:

• implement practical solutions to reduce pollution, including planting new grassland buffer strips to improve drainage, establishing river side trees to reduce run off into rivers and using better slurry storage facilities to avoid accidental spillage

• apply for grants to invest in new equipment and technology, such as precision farming tools that reduce the use of fertilisers and better protect the soil

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

“Catchment Sensitive Farming has been hugely successful in tackling water pollution, giving farmers practical advice tailored to their own land and grants to support the investment in infrastructure that protects watercourses.

“There are currently around 40 per cent of farmers involved in the scheme, but today we are doubling the funding available and we aim to have every farmer in the country taking part by 2023.”

Henry Pym from Higher Blindmoor Farm in Somerset, added:

“The advice from the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme and the Environment Agency has helped us better understand how to improve the water, soil and air quality around the farm. Alongside the support of CSF grants, we have been able to carry out the necessary improvements to make our practices more environmentally sustainable for the future.

“For example, herbal leys have been a real bonus as they are not only very environmentally beneficial, but also have agricultural benefits from increased intakes due to their diverse species. The herbal leys receive no artificial fertiliser which is a win-win for the farm and the environment!”

Read more: ‘Evolution not a revolution’: Defra announces update of Agricultural Transition Plan

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