Apply for water pollution subsidy before April 30
New advice on environmentally friendly potato production could prove invaluable to growers looking to secure recently launched grants to help reduce water pollution.
The information is contained in a booklet, Environmental guidance for potato production, a joint initiative between Potato Council, FWAG and England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative.
The guide contains information on management, regulation and environmental schemes to help growers reduce environmental risks and achieve sustainable production, says technical executive Chris Steele.
“The potato sector has its own diffuse water pollution risks, given its unique soil structural issues and the use of specific pesticides and nutrients. The Water Framework Directive and cross-compliance mean there are more reasons to ensure potato production is environmentally sustainable.
“We’ve updated this guide to highlight best practice in potato production. Growers who can demonstrate they work harmoniously with the environment may find greater marketing and production benefits, maximising the opportunities their industry offers.”
The guide covers selecting land for cropping, and explains how to carry out field risk assessments. Examples are included. “These assessments are not difficult and should be done for each field to reduce the risk of soil run-off and erosion,” says Chris.
Further advice on meeting regulatory requirements for soil protection, nitrate vulnerable zones and wastes is included. Nutrient, pesticide and water management plans, often a key part of buyers’ production protocols, are also covered.
The guide demonstrates how environmental stewardship and Campaign for the Farmed Environment management options can help reduce diffuse pollution from farmland while encouraging biodiversity.
Environmental Guidance for Potato Production can be found at http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/farming/csf/default.aspx or from FWAG, Potato Council and Catchment Sensitive Farming.
Getting hold of a copy could pay dividends. The booklet’s launch follows an announcement that at least £7.5m has been made available to farmers in 50 priority catchment areas across England, including most key potato growing areas, to fund a range of measures to reduce diffuse pollution into watercourses.
Growers can apply for up to £10,000 from the Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grants Scheme to finance improvements to reduce the movement of water and pesticides into streams and rivers.
The aim is to benefit people and wildlife living downstream of agricultural operations and to reduce the amount of public money currently spent on water treatment.
“The grants are competitive, so farmers putting together the highest quality applications will stand the best chance of being selected,” says Chris. “This booklet will provide plenty of valuable advice, all being well giving them a head start when it comes to securing funds.”
Farmers can check if their land lies in a priority catchment at the Business Link website here.
The window for applications opened on March 1 and will close on April 30.