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‘Farm to Tap' scheme celebrates most successful year to date

Severn Trent's “Farm to Tap” scheme has celebrated its most successful year to date, with no metaldehyde water quality failures at its treatment works.

The scheme aims to mitigate the impact of pesticide run off on water quality by working with a 4,000-strong network of farmers across Severn Trent’s region to keep pesticides out of drinking water, and to avoid using expensive and carbon intensive chemical treatments.

“There were two major factors at play helping to stop metaldehyde reaching watercourses between September and December 2019,” said Severn Trent’s catchment management scientist, Laura Flower.

“First of all, 800 farms in our region signed up to Farm to Tap, which financially supports them in switching to a ferric phosphate alternative or making management changes to significantly reduce run-off,” she added.

“We also know that less slug pellets than normal were applied, as 24 per cent of the farmers signed up were unable to drill any winter crops due to the extensive wet weather.”

Severn Trent is now in the process of rewarding farmers in successful sub-catchments up to £5/ha.

Those who signed up to the scheme and were unable to drill, but operate in a successful sub-catchment, will receive a goodwill payment of £100. 

Flower explained that even with the lack of planting, a handful of sub-catchments still succumbed to the rainfall and failed local water quality tests. But the good news is that the higher quality water from other catchments diluted this and meant drinking water standards were upheld at treatment works.

“We’re now working closely with the few farmers in the failed areas to understand how we can support them to resolve the issue. We’re offering a £25 incentive to these farms for filling in a simple survey to help with this,” she added.

“For this reason, we will be continuing the Farm to Tap scheme for 2020/21 before metaldehyde is completely banned from use in 2021, where we will develop a similar scheme for different pesticides.”

Author: Jamie Hailstone,
Topic: Leaks & bursts , Sustainability & social value , Wastewater quality
Tags: Severn Trent Water

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