FROM WASTE TO WHEAT
A farmer is using sediment that would have ended up in the river to enrich his soil as part of a project to improve water quality in the Ouseburn.
David Fretwell from West Farm has installed a sediment trap which not only reduces pollution entering the river but benefits his crops. The work is part of a project by Tyne Rivers Trust to work with farmers to reduce the amount of diffuse pollution entering the river system around the Ouseburn.
The sediment trap which catches waste that would have run into the river is just one of the measures to improve water quality in the Ouseburn which is classified as a failing water body.
The project came about following a study by Tyne Rivers Trust, which focused on the role that farms around the Ouseburn can play in reducing pollution that enters the river and therefore improving water quality. The Trust set up a partnership with the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water, Newcastle City Council, Groundwork NE & Cumbria and Natural England to help farmers take practical steps to do this.
David Fretwell from West Farm is one of the first farmers to complete work on his cattle and arable farm. The sediment trap which catches waste that would have run into the river is just one of the measures to prevent waste flowing into the water. He has also concreted his yard to make it easier to separate dirty water and prevent it from running into the river.
He says: “This has been a fantastic project to be involved in. As a farmer I make my living from the land so understand the importance of looking after the environment. I was impressed by how much waste was caught from the sediment trap after only a few days and how dramatically overall pollution into the burn has been reduced.”
Danielle Anderson-Walker, Farms Liaison Officer at Tyne Rivers Trust says: “This work is just one of many practical measures that we have helped to put in place to tackle the high levels of pollution in the Ouseburn.
“The benefits are not just for farmers in terms of reducing waste but for everyone who uses the river. By improving water quality we can improve habitat and attract a more diverse range of creatures and species, which in turn means a healthier river.”
The work is part of a wider Ouseburn River Restoration Project which is funded by the Environment Agency. Lucy Mo, Project Manager at the Environment Agency says: “It’s fantastic to see farmers working to make changes which have benefits for everyone including the environment.”