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Project to tackle farming pollution proves a success with 12 month extension

A project which supports farmers to reduce pollution and increase efficiency has been so successful it has been given a 12-month extension.

The Ouseburn countryside stewardship fund run by Tyne Rivers Trust focuses on the urban farms and rivers around Newcastle which have a huge bearing on localised flooding. As part of the project the Trust works with more than 70 farmers to reduce the amount of agricultural pollution that washes into the Ouseburn.

The project has been running for three years, funded by the Rural Payments Agency, and delivers workshops on practical ways to increase efficiency and improve water quality such as clean and dirty water separation, slowing the flow through hedge planting and improving soil quality.

Danielle Anderson-Walker, farms liaison officer at Tyne Rivers Trust says: “It has become the largest farming fund in the north and we’ve been able to support farmers to make practical improvements which benefit both rivers and wildlife and their efficiency.

“We now have an extra year to work with even more farmers to improve the Ouseburn and the Tyne. I’d urge any landowner or farmer whose land feeds into the Ouseburn to join.”

The Ouseburn farming facilitation fund is free to join and farmers get a 20% uplift in points when applying for a Countryside Stewardship scheme.

One of its success stories is West Farm at Callerton which has seen farmer, David Fretwell, using sediment that would have ended up in the river to enrich his soil. David has installed a sediment trap to catch waste which would have otherwise leaked into the Ouseburn. When the trap is emptied, the sediment is recycled and spread onto the land to benefit his crops. A study by Newcastle University which monitored water quality before and after the sediment trap was installed found that this small change has had a direct improvement on water quality in the Ouseburn with a reduction in nitrate and ammonia levels, which both signal a move towards a healthier river.

David Fretwell, 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.”

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