Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Grant helps farmer take STEPS to protect environment

January 2, 2019 by  
Filed under News & Business

A combination of increased legislation and a passion to farm more sustainably has driven one Shropshire farmer’s desire to position environmental protection at the forefront of his business strategy.

Simon Scott, of Harnage Estates, explains why he has chosen to work so closely with Severn Trent Water, to put a variety of infrastructure and land management items in place, to help minimise pollution and protect watercourses.

“Over the last decade, there has been a clear drive for growers to farm more sustainability in order to enhance the environment. This has resulted in tighter legislation and increased pressure to farm more sustainability.

“I believe these pressures will continue to increase as we move forward and that’s why we’re taking a proactive approach environmental protection. We want to help futureproof our business for the long-term,” says Mr Scott.

He explains how the team at Harnage Estates has worked closely with Severn Trent agricultural advisor, Cindy Joule, to make changes on farm that aim to minimise the risk of farm inputs, such as pesticides and nitrates, polluting streams and rivers.

Positive changes

“The Cound Brook, which feeds into the river Severn, runs through our land so we feel a strong responsibility towards ensuring our practices don’t impact water quality.

“So, with the support of Cindy and the Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) grant funding, we’ve been able to make positive changes that work towards this,” adds Mr Scott.

Over a four year period, Harnage Estates has made three significant investments to help reduce environment impacts.

“When Severn Trent first approached us back in 2014, we’d already made a good start on landscaping a wetland with a reed bed, to act as a natural filter for the farm drains, while also providing habitat for wildlife,” he explains.

“Cindy visited the farm during a time when our project had come to a bit of a standstill. She made us aware of the STEPS funding and how it could help contribute towards the remaining work.

“With this, and support from Severn Trent, we started the application process. We were successful and the £5,000 grant helped us to implement all the finishing touches and complete the project.”

Since receiving the initial funding, Mr Scott explains that the business has successfully applied for the grant every year, which has helped to pay for a number of additional projects.

Better position

“We’ve built an enclosed sprayer wash down area to help minimise pesticide runoff, and have also installed a biofilter to process water used in the washing down process, making it suitable for further use on the farm.

“For example, we use the recycled water for tank mixing, which reduces our overall demands for water on the farm. Installation of a 30,000l capacity water catchment tank, next to the wash down area, also allows us to reduce pressure on our local borehole.”

Mr Scott encourages farmers in the Midlands to consider applying for the STEPS funding to help protect the environment and their businesses for the future.

“It’s been great working with Cindy Joule from Severn Trent – she’s very proactive and the grant is easy to apply for too, which is refreshing.

“It’s allowed us to make big steps in the right direction and we feel our business is in a much stronger position than we were a few years ago in terms of environmental protection.”

He explains that Harnage Estates has also successfully applied for STEPs funding, at their farm in Weston Under Lizard, over the last three years which has helped them fund the construction of a biolfilter, and bunded spray store.

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