Incentives for farmers to improve water quality must be included in a future agricultural policy if the UK wants to benefit from a further reduction in nitrate use.
The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses told the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into nitrate use today (6 March) that introducing a land management contract where farmers are incentivised through annual and capital grants to reduce nitrate leaching should form part of a UK food, farming and environmental policy post-Brexit.
CLA Land Use Policy Adviser Fraser McAuley said: “Farmers and landowners are vital in the battle to further reduce water pollution. Actions already taken to use fertiliser and manures more efficiently have resulted in a reduction of more than 30% per hectare compared to the early 1980s.
“The Government should support them to deliver improved water quality through a land management contract as part of a new post-Brexit UK food, farming and environmental policy which incentivises farmers to store and use manures and fertiliser more efficiently to avoid pollution.”
Mr McAuley told the Committee that it would be premature to introduce any further blanket restrictions given the long lag time for nitrates to move through the soil profile into groundwater and before the effects are known of recent changes in practice and new rules due to be introduced in April.
The CLA also called on the Government to uphold its Industrial Strategy commitment to help grow markets for innovative agricultural technologies and techniques such as precision farming, manure management and plant breeding that can help improve nitrogen use efficiency and avoid leaching.
Click here to read the CLA’s written submission to the Nitrates Inquiry.