An increased grant offering has been announced to encourage the planting of cover crops to improve soil structure on Midlands farms and protect water quality, as part of the wider Severn Trent Environment Protection Scheme (STEPS).
“The funding is open for applications now, until 30 June, and is exclusively for farmers in a priority groundwater catchment within the Severn Trent region,” explains Adam Freer, senior catchment manager scientist.
“Having already supported over 5,000 farmers through our Farming for Water programme, we’re now looking to work with growers on improving soil health to help overcome the challenge of nitrate run-off and leaching,” he says.
“This is a special offer specifically for those in our target area who are considering cover or catch crops in their rotation this year, as well as those planning to under sow maize.”
Cover crops are widely recognised for their role in improving soil health, enhancing soil structure and helping to retain nutrients and increase organic matter. They also have a role to play in helping farmers meet the Farming Rules for Water regulations (2018), which are expected to be updated later this year.
“Healthier soils have resulted in improved water infiltration and better retention of farm inputs, which could otherwise run off into groundwater when wet weather hits,” adds Dr Freer.
Cover crops that provide good ground cover, such as mustard, winter turnip and forage rye, and many more, are all eligible under the scheme. Catch crops must include a mix of five or more varieties.
For more information and full eligibility criteria visit www.stwater.co.uk/steps or contact your local Severn Trent agricultural adviser for support with the application.
How to apply:
- Check you’re in a priority groundwater catchment here: www.stwater.co.uk/steps
- To increase your chances of a successful application, seek advice from your local Severn Trent agricultural adviser on what options would best suit your farm
- Fill out your application online: www.stwater.co.uk/steps
- Make sure your application is in by 30 June