Making water management profitable
A key aim of the project is to demonstrate water management systems which not only protect the environment but also save time, money and generate profits. Mismanagement of water on the farm costs farm businesses time and money where profit margins are already tight and time in short supply, especially with part-time farmers. These can often be ‘hidden’ costs to the farm business, such as time and diesel costs in hauling dirty water out to land for spreading, loss of nutrient from soil as opposed to it being utilized for grass/crop growth, loss of soil itself, dosing for waterborne disease in livestock such a liver fluke resulting from contaminated drinking water to name but a few. There are also the ‘up-front’ costs such as needing to increase dirty water storage facilities, increased fertilizer costs to replace lost nutrients, and, in the worst-case scenario, pollution fines and legal costs that result from pollution prosecution proceedings.
The project is looking at using the nutrients, which otherwise would be lost from the farm in run off, to grow innovative crops such as miscanthus and nettles in buffer zones. These crops have a proven ability to uptake a substantial level of nutrients, but also can be processed to produce a value-added product. E.g., nettle fertiliser or using miscanthus to produce soil stabilising logs to prevent soil erosion.
This project aims to identify and trial solutions to these barriers by developing innovative and integrated win-win solutions for rivers and farm businesses, using digital technology and nature-based, productive, solutions that protect the water environment whilst maintaining and improving productivity and profitability of the farm business.
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