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Stackyard News May 2012

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Farmers Working Hard on the Trout Beck

Farmers in the Trout Beck area near Dufton in the Eden Valley are working hard to protect this lovely river which is important for its good populations of trout, salmon and other wildlife. Together with Eden Rivers Trust, those who work on the land around this water course are undertaking a whole range of different activities to keep the river special.

Brown trout photo by John Stock

Brown trout – photo by John Stock

The Trust has produced farm plans and audits for several farms in the area. These identified potential sources of pollution from the farm to the river and ways of addressing any problems. The plans also analysed the soil in the fields on the farm so that the farmers could better plan their use of fertilisers and manure on the land. This not only reduces the amount of excess nutrients running off in to the river but also saves the farmer money.

The farm plans identified useful training opportunities for the farmers involved, such as Nutrient Management and Sheep Dip Certificates. They also investigated potential funding sources such as Catchment Sensitive Farming, Woodland Grant Schemes and Higher Level Stewardship.

The Trust organised a series of workshops for farmers on “water friendly farming”. These were very well attended and all involved came up with exciting ideas about how they could improve their farms and farming practices to benefit the river.

Several training events have taken place, many in partnership with Newton Rigg College. These have included riverside fencing, hedging, woodland management, creating buffer strips, fertiliser spreader calibration and grassland aeration.

A soil aerator has been demonstrated and used on more than 300 acres of farm land, and more is planned. Aeration reduces soil compaction, improves soil structure and slows the flow of water across the land. It can also improve grassland yields and reduce fertiliser requirements.

A significant amount of work has been completed or is planned along the river, such as riverside fencing, tree planting, coppicing and controlling invasive species. These will all improve the condition of the river for its wildlife.

Tom Dawson, Habitats Officer with Eden Rivers Trust, said, “The Trout Beck is already a fantastic wildlife haven, thanks to all those who farm in the area, and this project is making it even better. We are grateful to everyone around the river for their interest and support in this project.”

The project has been made possible by generous funding received from the Oglesby Charitable Trust. It has also involved the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas, which is managed by Defra.

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