DEFRA has announced that it’s investing 25m to employ dedicated advisers in 40 catchment areas of England in a bid to reduce agricultural pollution.

The advisers will work on a one-to-one basis with farmers in the catchments areas, as well as leading a series of initiatives including workshops and farm demonstrations to encourage best practice.

The measures that farmers will be encouraged to adopt include limiting the use of fertilisers, manures and pesticides, fencing off watercourses as well as reducing stocking densities.

The England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative will last for two years and has been designed to help the government meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.

Junior DEFRA minister Elliot Morley said: “One of the greatest challenges we face in boosting the quality of our water environment is in tackling pollution from agriculture.

This new initiative will help address this threat by providing farmers with the understanding and know-how needed to improve farming practices.

“Working to reduce water pollution will have wide benefits – protecting plants and animals, improving the quality of water at our beaches, and also benefiting tourism.”

The government has estimated that the cost of removing harmful pesticides and nitrates from drinking water is 7 a year for every customer.

It has also suggested that diffuse pollution can reduce the quality of bathing water, with detrimental effects for the tourist industry.