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Agriculture and diffuse source pollution in the Fail catchment

Research Funding Body

Scottish Government Centre for Expertise for Waters (CREW)

Author

Oliver, D and Vinten, A

Project Objectives

This workshop aimed to share knowledge and understanding of diffuse pollution issues and management opportunities in the Water of Fail catchement, Ayrshire, to (I) update the farming community in the Water of Fail catchement on findings from the recent SEPA one-to-one visits; (II) raise awareness about potential funding opportunities for implementing on-farm measures to reduce diffuse pollution impacts; and (III) share experiences of land and water management from across academic, farmer, catchement stakeholder and regulator perspectives.

Why relevant to improve implementation and uptake of water quality measures

This project provides insights into barriers of implementing diffuse source pollution features on farms. It showed that farmers need financial incentives to invest in certain features but also that some features are considered to be impractical for their local farm context.

Method

A farmer focus group was held on the 22nd of February 2012. Four presentations by key stakeholders and catchement researchers (SEPA, Ayrshire Rivers Trust, SAC and University of Stirling) were provided to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant to livestock farming. A brief questionnaire was also used to evaluate farmer attitudes towards particular on-farm measures (confidence in effectiveness, practicality, suitability for implementation) and sources of funding for their implementation.

Key Results

  • This form of workshop is useful for disseminating knowledge on diffuse source pollution: 9 of the 10 farmers present agreed or strongly agreed that the event had increased their knowledge on the subject.
  • From the questionnaire carried out at the event it was found that there is low confidence in the role of the creation and management of wetlands/ponds. The researchers concluded that this is perhaps an area that needs enhanced coverage at future events in terms of opportunities that may arise through their implementation on-farm. Stream bank fencing, livestock crossing points and increased slurry storage all scored favourably in terms of farmer confidence in these options delivering water quality benefits.
  • Finally, the perceived practicality of implementing mitigation measures on farms was sought from the participants: Wetland creation was perceived to be of low practicality (however if financial assistance was provided then farmers would be willing to take part).
  • Feedback from the farmers present at this meeting suggests that there is still much to do in terms of communicating the message and value of fundamental management strategies (such as nutrient management planning) to reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture. Options such as strembank fencing and increased manure storage are perhaps viewed as more obvious mitigation strategies with clear and direct impacts on water quality through restricting access of livestock to streams and greater flexibility of managing risk through better timing of manure applications but further awareness of the value (both environmentally and financially) of nutrient management planning is clearly needed.

Year

2011

Contact Person

Andy Vinten (Andy.vinten@hutton.ac.uk)

Further Information

 

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project

Research

Areas of Interest


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.