As more research becomes available, Eden Rivers Trust are finding that problems such as declining water quality are increasingly caused by ‘diffuse’ sources from the wider catchment.
In the case of agriculture this is generally from nutrients applied to the land which can find a way into the river in the form of slurry and manure or artificial fertiliser.
This is not only an ecological problem but also an economic one as valuable nutrients lost to the river are providing no benefit to an agricultural system.
Eden Rivers Trust is working closely with statutory and non-statutory bodies to identify sub-catchments where this may be an issue and is then working with farmers within those catchments to address the problems in the following ways.
Soil Sampling: Carrying out laboratory analysis of soils to get a view of the nutrients available to crops held within the soil, particularly Phosphorous, and Potassium and PH levels.
Soil Management Planning: Identifying areas of the farm that have soils which are prone to erosion, and might therefore result in sedimentation of gravels in the river if managed inappropriately.
Farm Waste Management planning: Identifying exactly how much Slurry or Farm Yard Manure is produced from the livestock on the farm during housed periods, how much storage is available and how much land is safely available to spread it on.
Nutrient Management Planning: Combining all of the above to produce a practical plan for using all available nutrients on the farm. This will minimise the cost of artificial or bought in fertilisers and eliminate the risk of nutrients being lost to the environment to the detriment of fragile ecosystems such as the River Eden.
The Trust is currently working closely with the Defra funded Catchment Sensitive Farming Initiative to help farmers reduce diffuse pollution in key sub-catchments within the Eden catchment.
If you would like more information about the advice and assistance we can offer farmers please contact our Habitats Officer