27 May 1998
Water firm to tempt farmers to go organic
WESSEX Water plans is offer farmers cash incentives to go organic, in a bid to wean them off nitrate fertiliser.
Wessex Water said it will pay farmers an additional £40/ha a year to convert to organic farming. This is on top of the Governments existing organic farming conversion rate of £450/ha extra over five years.
It has targeted an area of 15,000ha (37,065 acres) and has decided to allocate a total of £600,000 in an attempt to reduce nitrate levels in the regions drinking water. According to the report in The Guardian farmers in the area have already expressed a lot of interest.
The company expects to see an improvement in water quality as a result in two years because the chalk in Wiltshire is deeply fissured. The scheme will be extended if it works.
Meanwhile, Lynda Brown, a food writer and convert to an organic diet, writes in The Guardians Society supplement that the sooner modern agriculture gets rid of pesticides, the better.
Brown criticises the “hypocritical attitude” of the Government which is content to spend at least £2.5 million annually to test for pesticide residues, but can find only an extra £337,000 for organic research and development.
The Guardian 27/05/98 page 4-5 (Society supplement)