During the establishment of the Welland Valley Partnership in 2011, it was recognised that a sub-group with agricultural expertise would be needed to coordinate farmer engagement to address diffuse pollution.
Sediment, nutrients and pesticides from agricultural sources are a major cause of pollution in the Welland, as in most river basins in lowland England. The steps that need to be taken to reduce these impacts are often aligned with objectives for more efficient resource use on farms. More effective management and use of resources such as soil, fertilisers, water and pesticides can improve water quality and farm performance but is not always easy to achieve in practice.
RPG members learn from, and provide guidance on a soil management experiment at the Allerton Project.
The aim of the Resource Protection Group (RPG) is therefore to coordinate the provision of support for farmers to improve resource management and reduce negative impacts on watercourses. To achieve this, the group draws on wide ranging experience and expertise from individuals and organisations who are active within the river basin. Members of the group comprise the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Allerton Project, the Welland Rivers Trust, the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and Business Association, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Anglian Water, the River Nene Regional Park, Hutchinsons, and the Forestry Commission.
Each of these recognises that more can be achieved by working together than in isolation. In fact, a coordinated approach to farmer engagement is essential to ensure consistent support and messaging and to minimise the number of individuals making demands on farmers’ time.
Examples of past and current activities carried out by the group include:
RPG members discuss the benefits, limitations and practicalities of reduced field cultivations on soil health and water quality.
Access to high resolution satellite data is helping inform new project ideas and targeted intervention with landowners.