Farmers in the Durham area, many of whom have suffered in the devastating flash floods of the past two years, attended a special event aimed at passing on advice about future such occurrences.
A partnership project between the Wear Rivers Trust (WRT) and the Environment Agency is offering advice, guidance and financial contributions for schemes designed to save money through retaining soil and nutrients being lost into various watercourses in the Durham area.
Priority catchment areas around the Pittington Beck, Old Durham Beck, Croxdale Beck, Lower River Browney and Brancepeth Beck arebeing targeted.
Farmers within the designated areas will have the opportunity to work up schemes with WRT and apply for a financial contribution to implement them.
Examples of existing schemes and tools which can be used were on show at a launch event at Brancepeth Golf Club.
This involved a tour of nearby Little White Farm, which has taken action after suffering a number of flash floods, and included presentations from a range of farming and environmental speakers.
WRT organised the seminar to demonstrate what sort of action farmers and landowners can take to reduce business risk and retain their most precious resources.
It looked at the business benefits of retaining soil and nutrients on the farm and showcased some of the low-cost practical actions that have been taken elsewhere.
David Jackson of Little White Farm explained the work he has undertaken to retain soil and nutrients on the farm, and prevent them washing away into neighbouring watercourses.
Presentations included an introduction by WRT director Peter Nailon putting the farm management scheme into context in relation to catchment management and how farmers and landowners can get involved.
He said: “I am very pleased with the reactions to the seminar. Steps need to be taken to protect landowners’ property, and the schemes that were presented are an effective means of doing so.
“Farm visits are in the process of being arranged with local landowners to discuss opportunities and funding to reduce run-off, protect watercourses, and also retain expensive soil and nutrients.”
This was followed by a talk from George Dobbs of the Northumberland Rivers Trust, demonstrating various interventions to reduce nutrient run-off to save farmers money.
And Dr Casper Hewett, of Durham University, delivered an interactive land management exercise to highlight which techniques resulted in good and poor land management in relation to soil loss and flooding while Professor John Wainwright, also a lecturer at the university, showcased the latest run-off research techniques and how they relate to modern land management.