Farmers offered cash rewards for joining water quality scheme

A water company is offering farmers financial rewards and expert support to join a scheme aiming to reduce metaldehyde levels.

Severn Trent launched the Farm to Tap scheme on Monday (9 July), offering farmers up to £8/ha for reducing metaldehyde levels found in their water sources.

Farmers in a Drinking Water Safeguard Zone or in the Severn Trent priority catchment areas are eligible to sign up to the scheme.

See also: 8 new rules for water and what they mean for farmers

The priority catchment areas are: Church Wilne (Lower Derwent), Cropston, Middle Severn, Whitcare, Cound, Teme, Shropshire Middle Severn, Avon, Worcestershire Severn and Leam.

Farmer payments will be calculated and distributed based on water quality samples taken every two weeks, upstream and downstream, from September to early December.

Jodie Rettino, Severn Trent catchment management and biodiversity lead, said it was extremely difficult and costly to remove metaldehyde from water.

Although metaldehyde is a vital product for slug control on farms, Dr Rettino said it could be banned if efforts were not made to reduce the risk of the active substance reaching water courses.

“To prevent this, we need to work with farmers at the source and support them in reducing metaldehyde use,” she said.

“One way is by switching to ferric phosphate, which is where signing up to Farm to Tap can help by providing the support, resources and advice farmers need to make that switch.”

Previously known as Farmers as Producers of Clean Water, Farm to Tap includes a £25 sign-up bonus before 31 August and a refer a friend bonus. In the future, the scheme will also focus on wider pesticide and herbicide good practice.

To find out the full terms and conditions of the scheme, or to sign up, contact your local agricultural adviser or email farming4water@severntrent.co.uk

Sustainable landscapes

This scheme follows a programme designed to improve soil health, described as the first of its kind and launched at Cereals 2018 by Yorkshire Water and Future Food Solutions.

The collaborative initiative, named Sustainable Landscapes, will see farmers, global food and drink brands, NGOs and supply chain partners working together.

The project will identify new ways to improve soil management that reduces erosion, maintains moisture content and increases agricultural productivity.

Farm to Tap scheme incentives

  • £8/ha for reducing metaldehyde levels in local water source.
  • If the water sampling is below the metaldehyde water quality standard of 0.1 ppb, an additional £100 bonus will be awarded.
  • Farmers who register before 31 August will receive a £25 early bird bonus.
  • Assistance from local Severn Trent agricultural adviser to develop the best solutions for each farm.
  • £10 refer a friend bonus for each neighbouring farm signed up.