Its quality can be impacted by the use of agri-chemicals and changes to drainage patterns and soil erosion. Increasingly intensive farming methods, recent rainfall variability and increasing regulations often make issues arising more difficult to address. These conditions are such that a good understanding of water within the environment and the potential for agricultural impact (good or bad) is of fundamental importance to efficient and responsible farm management.
Hafren Water is actively involved with helping the farming community solve the water-related problems they face. Working closely with the National Farmers Union and land owners we can offer a wide range of technical expertise.
Water quality. Agricultural activities can impact on both physical and chemical aspects of water quality. The mobilising of fines by ploughing, or ditch clearing, for example, and the subsequent potential for sedimentation can have adverse impact upon the environment. These impacts may apply to sensitive ecological features, fauna or flora and can lead to legal action against the landowner.
Hafren has provided advice to land owners in relation to controlling soil mobilisation from fields adjacent to watercourses and on measures that can be adopted to slow the flow in rivers to reduce flooding and increase sediment retention. These works have led to the avoidance of prosecution in several cases.
Agriculture can also impact on water quality via the use of organic and inorganic fertiliser and pesticides, in particular nutrients, nitrate and phosphate. Hafren Water has acted on behalf of a large number of landowners in England and Wales in appealing against Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) designation. Through detailed assessment of raw data the assumptions and conclusions drawn by Defra in their review have been critically appraised and questioned. Considerable success has been achieved in this process over the last three rounds of the NVZ review. In 2017 we acted on behalf of 200 landholders in nearly 40 river or groundwater catchments, with a high success rate in removing proposed or existing areas from NVZ designation. Assessment has also been undertaken to review impacts associated with the changing use of farmland on nearby river quality.
Water supply and flooding. The installation of alternative non-mains water supplies can lead to significant cost savings for landowners. Hafren Water can advise on all aspects of water wells, from feasibility assessments to advice on licensing through to specification of requirements and preparation of tender documents for drilling contractors. We also supervise drilling works and subsequent test pumping and obtaining the necessary licences.
Hafren has provided agricultural water management advice and technical support for numerous winter storage reservoirs for irrigation. Our involvement has included assessment of hydrological aspects for Planning Applications through to calculations of water availability and obtaining abstraction licences.
Measures to slow the flow of surface water run-off from fields or smaller watercourses are designed to help alleviate flooding issues and associated problems of soil loss and sedimentation of rivers. These can be in-field or in-river measures. Hafren Water will guide the landholder or will obtain any consents required for the works.
Grosvenor Farms requested support for their application for a Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme as part of their sustainability and environmental policy. Hafren Water co-ordinated a team including Reaseheath College and Shropshire Wildlife Trust to deliver the necessary Wetland Feasibility Study in support of the application.
Agri-environmental schemes. Hafren Water provides technical support for clients’ applications for Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship schemes. Frequently working closely with ecologists we have provided feasibility studies to support applications by identifying areas where enhancements could be made to create or improve water-supported habitats. We also advise on the practical measures needed to realise the water-supported ecological potential of land.
Our clients have included the National Farmers Union, the Grosvenor Estate, The Tortworth Estate Company and numerous individual farmers and landowners.