How you can get involved on World Rivers Day

Sunday 27 September is World Rivers Day – a celebration of the world’s waterways and helping encourage the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.

Join NFU Environment Forum chairman Phil Jarvis, by posting photos or short video clips on social media of what you are most proud of in terms of your contribution to improvements to the water environment. Phil explains:

Thinking back over the past 20 years or so that I have been at Loddington, we have put many measures in place to contribute to the improvement of our own ditches and streams.

This has included many in field measures like increasing organic matter, less cultivations and changing some tramline directions. Grass and flower margins in combination with silt traps next to flowing ditches help in times of high rainfall. A series of leaky dams on our farm and the wider catchment have fostered some beneficial partnerships between farmers and the Welland Rivers Trust.

Over recent decades, farmers have made great strides in crop and soil monitoring, leading to more targeted fertiliser applications, which means far less nutrients are reaching our rivers than in the past.

Much of this progress has been made by farmers taking voluntary action on farm but industry-led initiatives also drive improvements that will benefit the water environment, as well as on farm productivity. Championing the Farmed Environment, Tried & Tested and the Voluntary Initiative have played, and will continue to play, a role in promoting good environmental practice on farm.

River Stour_54342

Farmers recognise more needs to be done and we will continue to do what we can to protect our water environment.

Just last week, Defra released its data on English water quality which showed that improvements have plateaued – 16% are classed as good, as they were in 2016 when data was previously released. We all have a part to play in improvements, which includes farming, water companies, industry, and other contributors from rural and urban areas. This is a journey for farmers, industry, government and society. A joined up, well-resourced strategy with rural stakeholders as co-designers is essential.

This week, the NFU responds to the Environment Agency consultation ‘Challenges & Choices’, which seeks views on the challenges our waters face and the choices and changes needed to help tackle those challenges.

The responses of the consultation will help update the current river basin management plans, draft plans of which we will see in 2021. These plans set out how organisations, stakeholders and communities will work together to improve the water environment.

In our response, we set out our thoughts on what is needed for to help improve the water environment.

These include robust and reliable data sources so we can be assured that pollution is being apportioned fairly but so that we are also recognised for our improvements; continued improvements to Countryside Stewardship, the current farm-based agri-environment scheme, to offer better incentives to farmers to participate; more funding for the expansion of Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF); financial support for infrastructure projects like slurry storage and new technologies like low emission spreading equipment; and of course, clear, straightforward new environmental land management scheme (ELMS) with actions that complement the wider farm business.

Our team at Loddington look to practice water friendly farming, and we always strive to play our part within the catchment.

How you can share your stories...

Without a doubt there is much still to be done, but in the meantime, as it is World Rivers Day on Sunday 27 September, perhaps you could join me in using social media to post photos or short video clips of your river and what you are most proud of in terms of your contribution to improvements to the water environment?

Please use the hashtags #WorldRiversDay and #BackBritishFarming and also tag @NFUtweets, who will retweet the best ones.

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