Small changes could add up to significant cash
Date of Article
Feb 08 2013

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7 February 2013, Small changes in farming can combine to have a big effect on the quality of watercourses.

Similarly, the cumulative effect of implementing them can add up to significant amounts of money for farmers. The good news is that, although only for a short period starting on March 1 and ending on April 30, many farmers in central southern England can apply for a share of limited funding through Natural England.

The Catchment Sensitive Farming Grant Scheme announced this week (February 5) covers the Test and Itchen, Lambourn and Kennet, and Hampshire Avon catchments but farmers within specific target areas who include high priority capital items in their applications are most likely to gain access to the Government cash. Individual farmers can claim up to £10,000 from a national pot of £15.5 million, with more than 40 project types eligible including installing water troughs, managing pesticides to reduce groundwater impacts, roofs for manure and silage stores, and works to keep livestock away from streams.

“Different target areas have their own priorities – for instance in the Test and Itchen catchment the intention is to reduce rainwater volume entering and running off manure, silage and slurry stores, cutting the impact of cattle poaching in stock gathering areas, gateways, and on river banks, reducing soil wash around gateways, and reducing pesticide loss to groundwater or watercourses,” explains Chris D’Olley, a rural land use expert at Carter Jonas based in Winchester.

“Some of the amelioration of these problems can be simple yet effective but many farmers are feeling the strain after a dire 12 months’ weather with poor harvests so the costs could total more than they can afford.

“Farmers who have not had grants before, or who have received less than £2,000 in total during previous years, will get more opportunity this time, along with those already actively making a contribution to the environment through participation in an agri-environment scheme.

“In addition to target area and capital item priorities, consideration will also be given to holdings or applicants with a current agreement under an environmental scheme such as Countryside Stewardship (CSF) or entry or higher level Environmental Stewardship, or who have engaged with the CSF initiative in the last two years, for instance by attending a CSF event or workshop.

“Farmers who in the past have queried the value of engaging in such schemes will now see that there is potential for a payback!”

Details of the Capital Grant Scheme funding priorities for 2013 / 14 can be found at, complete with an interactive map showing catchments and target areas.