A library of real-life video case studies is now online on Natural England’s website, showing how Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) advice can help food producers across a wide range of farming sectors improve their local environment and cut their costs.
The latest case study to be posted on the web focuses on the management of outdoor pig rearing units and aims to help pig farmers produce the best quality meat and also minimize any impact on above and below ground water quality.
The film features the management of an outdoor pig unit near Woodbridge in Suffolk where farmers David & Jill Robinson have teamed up with a range of organisations, including Catchment Sensitive Farming, as part of a forward-thinking plan to reduce the carbon footprint across their entire farming operation.
The farm, which is in the Deben, Alde & Ore river catchment in Suffolk, is part of the British Quality Pigs (BQP) EcoFarm initiative. EcoFarm is a three year project, partly funded by Defra, which promotes innovative environmental and management practices in outdoor pig farming. The Robinsons have actively sought the support and advice of staff from BQP (British Quality Pigs), Defra RDPE, Newcastle University, Suffolk FWAG, BPEX, the Environment Agency, Catchment Sensitive Farming and other pig farmers.
The environmental issues that outdoor pig farmers need to be aware of when setting up a unit are covered in the film, including the importance of considering the topography, location and proximity to any water courses when choosing the site where pigs are to be kept. Other measures covered include simple suggestions such as changing to a trough and hopper feeding system that brings better feed efficiency and more even nutrient muck distribution over paddocks. The Robinsons have seen a 10% reduction in costs by introducing such measures. Fitting their farm machinery with low pressure tyres has reduced soil compaction resulting in a welcome 15% fall in fuel costs.
Geoff Sansome, Natural England’s Director of Land Management, said: “Providing practical advice for managers of outdoor pig units is important as they can potentially create serious environmental problems if not sited with care. By making use of the free sources of advice available and getting involved in EcoFarm-type initiatives, food producer like the Robinsons can not only produce great food and enhance local water quality, but also reduce their costs.
“We’re delighted that Catchment Sensitive Farming has contributed to such a successful farm partnership and it is great news that other outdoor pig farmers can now share the Robinsons’ experiences by visiting the CSF’s online library of case studies.”
All the CSF video case studies can be viewed at www.naturalengland.org.uk/csf
The free, specialist advice on offer from the CSF team in priority catchment areas in England covers a wide range of topics: from providing information on nutrient management planning and soil husbandry, to details of the latest developments in fertiliser spreader calibration and soil & water management.
The CSF Capital Grant Scheme, which is run by Natural England, offers up to 50% funding for carrying out practical works that boost the health of England’s precious streams, rivers, meres and mosses by improving water quality and reducing pollution from agricultural activity. More than 40 types of project are eligible for funding and the grant scheme is open to farmers and land managers in the CSF scheme's priority areas. The Capital Grant Scheme will be available again next year with an application period between 1st March to the 30th of April 2013.
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