CSF – free advice to help tackle water and air pollution

13 October 2022

A picture of two people walking along a wet path by the side of a field

Farmers across England will be eligible to receive free advice from their local Catchment Sensitive Farming adviser, as part of the increased level of service being offered to help agricultural businesses tackle water and air pollution.

The CSF (Catchment Sensitive Farming) programme – a partnership between Defra, Natural England, and the Environment Agency – aims to provide free one-to-one advice to farmers to help them reduce water and air pollution. Visit: GOV.UK | Catchment Sensitive Farming: advice for farmers and land managers

In 2021, the government committed additional funding to CSF as part of Defra’s Future Farming and  Countryside Programme. The funding will enable its expansion across the whole of England by April 2023 and includes:

  • Targeted farm advice programme across all agricultural areas of England to improve water and air quality
  • Advice on Natural Flood Management
  • Provide support for farmers and growers with the Agricultural Transition including the new environmental land management schemes.

CSF operates to support sustainable farming practices, to improve environmental outcomes, and contribute to nature recovery and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from farming. It also provides free advice to help deliver the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan goals.

  • Between 2007 and 2014, British farmers match funded £84m of grant-funded improvements aimed at reducing pollution through CSF, resulting in a 12% reduction of agricultural pollutants in that time.
  • Since 2006, CSF has worked with around 24,000 farms and helped farmers take more than 80,000 positive actions to reduce pollution. Achieving reductions in agricultural pollutants – nitrogen levels down by 4%, phosphorus levels down by 8% and a 12% reduction in sediment.
  • 83% of farmers who had contact with their CSF Adviser agreed they were a person whose advice they could trust.

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“The expansion of CSF and extra funding will mean farmers in England can continue to get advice, training, and support to make improvements on farm that benefit the business and importantly, the environment.”

NFU Environment Forum chair Richard Bramley

NFU Environment Forum chair Richard Bramley said: “Our farmers have made great strides over recent years in reducing key agricultural emissions. Much of that progress has been made thanks to incentives such as the CSF programme, which helps farmers better understand how to improve the water, soil, and air quality on farm alongside food production. The expansion of CSF and extra funding will mean farmers in England can continue to get advice, training, and support to make improvements on farm that benefit the business and importantly, the environment.”

How does CSF support farm businesses?

Advisers work with farmers to produce food in a way which protects water, air and soil; minimising losses and maximising efficiencies.

Locally based, advisers are equipped with an understanding of the challenges farmers face. They will work alongside the farmer to take the latest advice and information and tailor it to best benefit the farm business.

What advice is available from CSF advisers?

CSF provides locally informed, confidential on-farm advice to help farmers make confident decisions on:

  • Soil Management
  • Nutrient, Slurry & Manure Management
  • Ammonia Reduction
  • Farm Infrastructure & Machinery set-up
  • Pesticide Handling
  • Water Resources & Natural Flood Management
  • Local Environmental Priorities
  • Land Management
  • Agricultural Transition, including Grants

How CSF works

  • One-to-one visits from your local CSF Adviser
  • Tailored on-farm advice from specialists
  • On-farm events, shows and demonstrations
  • Newsletters, on-line events
  • Advice on relevant grants

To find out how to get in touch with your local Catchment Sensitive Farming adviser, visit: GOV.UK | Get advice from CSF

What makes CSF farm advice different?

  • Impartial advice so you can take positive actions
  • ‘Win-wins’ for the environment and your business
  • Free, government-funded advice and training across England

Will there be target areas for air quality?

For air quality, CSF offer farm advice in all agricultural areas across England; targeting farms where they can make the greatest contribution to reducing ammonia emissions close to susceptible protected sites.

Will there be target areas for Natural Flood Management?

CSF work on Natural Flood Management (NFM) will be targeted. Targeting will be informed by learning from the NFM pilot projects. The team are currently working with the Environment Agency and Defra colleagues to define NFM priority areas.

What is the CSF timeline for the roll-out of the expansion plan?

By April 2023, CSF will be ready to deliver a targeted expansion programme across all agricultural areas in England. Please see below key milestones leading up to April 2023.

CSF will provide:

  • Targeted farm advice to all agricultural areas of England to improve water and air quality from April 2022.
  • Targeted farm advice on Natural Flood Management from April 2022 in selected catchments (catchments have yet to be confirmed).
  • Advice and guidance on Agricultural Transition schemes and grants where these contribute to CSF objectives.

What grants and schemes will support be provided for?

The Agricultural Transition is a moment of change for the industry. As part of the support the government will offer to farmers, CSF will provide advice and guidance on Agricultural Transition schemes and grants, where they contribute to CSF objectives. These will be introduced over time and include:

  • Countryside Stewardship
  • Slurry Infrastructure Grants
  • The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund
  • The new Environmental Land Management Schemes, comprising:
  • The Sustainable Farming Incentive
  • Local Nature Recovery
  • The Landscape Recovery Scheme

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