Government initiative hopes to find solutions for the conservation of water

A new government fund is encouraging groups of farmers to work together to store water and protect against the impact of drought.

Farmers are being incentivised to store water

Farmers are being incentivised to store water

The £1.6 million fund will be used by farmers to investigate different methods to manage water in their area. Projects could include multi-farm reservoirs, treated waste-water recycling systems, water trading and sharing schemes.

The fund will support around 20 studies and will also investigate water demand and availability in the most water-stressed agricultural areas over the next 25 years.

The government said the fund delivers on the Prime Minister’s commitment at last year’s Farm to Fork Summit to support farmers to identify local water resource schemes which will help to build resilience into the water supply, support food production and safeguard food security.

Applications have opened, with groups of two or more neighbouring farms eligible to apply. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 16 June.

Water minister Robbie Moore said: “Water is our most valuable resource, and we want to support farmers to come together to manage it efficiently on their land. By storing water when it’s wet, they’ll have more to use when it’s dry – helping to support food production and boost the resilience of farm businesses across the country.”

The fund will help to identify opportunities to build on the success of existing projects, such as Felixstowe Hydrocycle, which is a multi-farm project currently repurposing more than 0.5 million tonnes of excess land drainage water per year, for agricultural irrigation on six farms.

Another initiative is Lincoln Water Transfer, a member organisation where 19 farms share a single abstraction licence to take water from Fossdyke Navigation to irrigate 4,600 hectares of land, using a pool system to allocate water which creates greater flexibility in land and water use.

The Environment Agency will also use the fund to work with stakeholders such as farmers, landowners and Water Abstractor Groups to safeguard a healthy farming sector in future and highlight the needs of agriculture in Regional Water Resources Plans.