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Aquarius (Farmers as Water Managers within the Tarland Catchment)

Research Funding Body

The European Regional Development Fund


Fergusson, S., Grigor-Taylor, F., Dunglinson J and Blackstock, K

Project Objectives

To find and implement sustainable, integrated land-water management through engaging with land managers.

Why relevant to improve implementation and uptake of water quality measures?

The project is relevant as it considers farmers decision making to understand how to engage them to implement water management features in their land.  This particular part of the project is important as it focuses on the Tarland catchment, Aberdeenshire.


15 questionnaires were conducted face to face and three questionnaires (based on the interview questions) were mailed out during the month of August 2009. The sample consisted of land holders and some people who owned very small patches of land that are not really ‘farms’.

Key Results

  • Tarland farmers are considering environmental (water related) issues to an extent, but are not convinced there is a major problem and thus not proactive in their responses to such factors.  
  • The importance of the appearance of their land, crops and stock could be seen as farmers want to look good within the farming community.
  • Farmers are less inclined to be influenced by outside advice, with very few taking professional advice. In this respect farmers want to keep themselves to themselves and are not willing to be influenced by others (i.e. a collective approach). They are individual business men, who will make their own decisions.
  • The most popular water measures are those that do not put pressure on the farm business, i.e. do not greatly impede the production elements, for example field margins. Others which require more effort to establish or land, for example pond creation and woodlands are unpopular in comparison.
  • Although financial incentives might be the main motivation for participation in agri-environmental schemes, there is evidence that some farmers support environmental conservation because some are implementing environmental activities that they are not getting paid for.
  • In addition over half the farmers said their management decisions impact to some extent on plants and animals in water courses, and consider wildlife and nature to be of some importance within their land management decision making.



Contact Person

Keith Matthews (

More Information

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


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.