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We’re working with farmers to improve water quality

Our Catchment team supports local farmers by funding local demonstration sites and hosting learning events to share best practice and foster a culture of shared learning. Alongside these events, Catchment Management Officers also support farmers with schemes that encourage sustainable land management through funding for essential machinery and infrastructure improvements.

When it comes to luscious green landscapes, the South East doesn’t fall short. Much of it is owned by farmers, who produce throughout the UK and beyond, and we’re working with them to promote sustainable farming practices which improve water quality.

By reducing pesticides and sediment which can make its way into our rivers, streams, and even the sea, we can limit any impact on local ecosystems.

Our Catchment team supports local farmers by funding local demonstration sites and hosting learning events to share best practice and foster a culture of shared learning. Alongside these events, Catchment Management Officers also support farmers with schemes that encourage sustainable land management through funding for essential machinery and infrastructure improvements.

Is our work with farmers making a difference?

In groundwater catchments, nitrate from historic agricultural use is the main concern. The use of nitrate fertilisers is a very carbon-intensive process, and the run-off pollutes our rivers and streams. From soil health workshops and support with specialised fertiliser application equipment, farmers in the South East are now able to use nutrients more efficiently.

In surface water catchments, the focus shifts to pesticides. Our approach in these areas has been to explore alternatives and make sure that when there is a need to use them, the application is much safer. We’re helping to fund precision application equipment, that will help protect watercourses from contamination and investing in river restoration projects to improve catchment resilience, reduce flood risk, create habitats, and improve water quality.

We’ve made a lot of progress…

Since 2019, working with the Kent Wildlife Trust, we have helped support the Upper Beult Farm Cluster. With over 40 members, the cluster organises events covering a range of topics, from the ecological role of dung beetles to regenerative farming practices. Our support has enabled the cluster to conduct nightingale surveys and guide farmers in securing funding for environmental improvements. This collaborative model demonstrates how clean water, sustainable farming, and habitat enhancements can be achieved on a landscape scale.

In Kent’s groundwater catchments, we’ve partnered with the Farm and Wildlife Advisory Group to deliver farmer engagement initiatives. We’re facilitating knowledge exchange events and extensive soil testing, to help farmers understand the impact nitrates and pesticides have on the environment.

Our Catchment Team plays an important role in helping to support the health of our rivers, streams, and the land that surrounds them. With such vast expanses of ground to cover, our work with farmers, clusters, and advisors is crucial in making sure we meet our ambitious goals.

Farmers themselves recognise the value of these initiatives. Charles Chantler, a member of the Upper Beult Farm Cluster, said: “Southern Water’s programme has helped us to eliminate the use of propyzamide and has provided invaluable support for our farm cluster group, which is bringing farmers together to maximise environmental and natural capital opportunities in the area.”

Through these collaborative efforts, we’re able to protect water sources, and nurture a sustainable future for agriculture and the environment. By working together with farmers, we’re able to ensure the benefits of clean water and sustainable practices extend far beyond the fields and into the hearts of communities.

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