2013-12-11  facebook twitter rss

Water Friendly Farming at Newton Rigg’s New Dairy Unit

An innovative water friendly farming initiative is being developed as part of the new £2 million dairy unit at Sewborwens Farm, Newton Rigg College, Penrith.

It will include a range of equipment and practices which demonstrate how modern, commercial dairy farming can go hand in hand with protecting water quality and wildlife habitats and reducing flood risk.

Partnership working: Simon Johnson, Director of the Eden Rivers               Trust with Matt               Bagley, Head of Agriculture at Newton Rigg College with the rainwater               harvesting             pond at the College’s new dairy unit which is under construction.

Partnership working: Simon Johnson, Director of the Eden Rivers Trust with Matt Bagley, Head of Agriculture at Newton Rigg College with the rainwater harvesting pond at the College’s new dairy unit which is under construction.

The project is being delivered by a partnership involving Eden Rivers Trust, Newton Rigg College – part of Askham Bryan College - and two cutting edge national and international land use and water projects.

Within the development of the new dairy unit Newton Rigg College has installed
guttering, drainage, storage tanks and ponds around the farm buildings to capture and store rain water. With over an acre of new roof and one metre of rainfall annually in the Penrith area, this equates to 5000 cubic metres or 5 million litres of water a year.

The harvested, clean rain water will be used around the farm, for example for washing and cleaning in the dairy, and will reduce the farm’s reliance on borehole or mains water supplies. The rain water harvesting pond will overflow in to a new wetland area which will store and clean water and students will be able to manage this for wildlife as part of their studies.

The dairy unit drainage system will also keep clean rain water away from dirty cattle yards and silage stores whilst capturing any contaminated water and sending it to the new slurry lagoon.

Over £100,000 is being contributed to the Sewborwens project through Eden Rivers Trust’s European-funded Adaptive Land use for Flood Alleviation (ALFA) project. It will be used to give students the opportunity to work with the latest farm technology and machinery for managing soils, water runoff and nutrients. Examples include an aerator, a subsoiler and a tractor mounted global positioning system or GPS.

The subsoiler and aerator help to break up compaction of the soil and allow water to infiltrate the ground more easily. This improves soil structure, slows the flow of storm water across the land and lessens the amount of soil, manure and fertiliser which runs off into rivers. The GPS ensures that fertilisers are applied to the correct areas of the land, avoiding unnecessary and costly over-application.

Leading scientists from the field of river catchment management will come to the farm through the Defra funded Eden Demonstration Test Catchment Project.

This is a national project looking at ways of improving farms and farming practices to reduce water pollution from agriculture. The scientists will use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment to demonstrate the impact of the best practices at Sewborwens on water quality.

Wes Johnson, Principal, Newton Rigg College, said, “This fantastic collaboration between Eden Rivers Trust and Newton Rigg College will create a powerful education resource for students and local farm businesses to demonstrate how modern farming and environmental management can work together for mutual benefit.”

Simon Johnson, Director of Eden Rivers Trust, said, “The initiatives at Sewborwens Farm reflect many of the projects that Eden Rivers Trust is carrying out with farmers throughout the Eden catchment to improve rivers and the environment for people and wildlife. It provides an excellent opportunity to show case the best practices to current and future farmers ”.

Eden Rivers Trust

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