River Stakeholder Group Event Information and Registration
This is a follow up to the third session held on 18 July 2023. Many thanks to those who attended yesterday’s session and to John Owen of the Slyri project and Becky Davies of NRW’s People and Places team for sharing details of the Ely and Merthyr Catchment Partnerships.
We didn’t have time to get through all of the questions for John, so we have forwarded those that were in the chat to him for a response. He has got back to us with the following information (thank you John):
How much would it cost for an individual farm to install a mechanical nutrient capturer alongside the slurry store and a constructed reed bed to clean the water? The technology is very impressive, but how accessible is it for farmers on a financial front? – Laurel Carrington ANS The capital cost would be in the region of £200K with a running cost of around £10 /tonne, so you can see why I envisage a regional treatment plant would be more cost-effective.
John what’s the timeline for having this technology widely available in welsh farming thanks for a fascinating insight into your work - Jake Newman ANS The technology is ready to go, with most of the components widely available.
A question for my understanding on the process and how its sits within the wider food and agriculture system. It seems this is useful for large scale industrial farms - making industrial farming more sustainable? It is not as useful for smaller family farms unless this is massively subsidised / funded by government. Do you see a role for considering whether the carrying capacity of the land for slurry is an alternative approach to the challenges faced by the rivers and switching to regenerative farming might be needed for some farms? - Jess McQuade ANS De-watered nutrients are certainly better for the soil as you are applying organic matter without the flooding potential of slurry, however, slurry still has a very important role within farming systems, applied at the right time under appropriate conditions, this is where the weather stations can support the decision making
The 170kg/ha limit in the new NVZ regulations in Wales is nothing more than a cut and paste of outdated and ineffective EU NVZ regulations - as John has said, the Welsh Government needs to relook at this urgently - Peter Howells ANS Agree 100%
NRW have not been supportive of reedbeds in the past - this is a significant barrier to their use on-farm. Is this being looked at again by NRW in light of emerging evidence from Gelli Aur etc? - Peter Howells ANS Recent guidance has been published by NRW, but I think that certification and compliance will make widescale adoption unlikely. Mitigating the risk of pollution needs to be easier and less administratively burdening.
A Question: Is there evidence base yet on the impact of the weather stations on reduction of spreading in poor weather and then evidence of impact of that on local river? – Jess McQuade. ANS Only anecdotal but we have data to back the appropriateness of use and the inappropriateness of the closed spreading periods. I also mentioned in my presentation that I believe that we would get better outcomes through the use of data and guidance all year round than by calendar dates.
Are there any maps available that show the areas of rivers that are being monitored, those with pollution problems etc? I am especially interested in the area in and around Llandeilo. – Angela Towler ANS Yes I'm sure that Ww / DC and NRW will have those maps. We also have results from regular monitoring of the tribute running through Gelli Aur Farm and how a relatively intensive farm can control water quality through careful management.
It’s clear that there is a lot of interest in learning more about technical aspects of tackling river health, however with just two sessions left with the facilitators we will be using that time to focus on how the group will work together moving forward.
From the previous three sessions you have told us your thoughts with regard to:
Barriers to good river health:
Cost of living
Lack of knowledge e.g. data, public awareness
Lack of community engagement/citizen involvement
Lack of action
What is needed to achieve good river health:
Citizen engagement (with accessible language, wider promotion of issues and reaching young people priorities )
Aims identified for the group to focus on:
To identify areas where collaboration between this group and existing projects can add value and help to resolve live challenges.
To seek innovative solutions to the challenges to river health in the region.
To support data gathering and dissemination.
To influence at policy and regulator level.
To focus on outcomes and the action needed to achieve them.
How you want to meet and share information:
Online meetings with a duration of 90 minutes or less
A central hub for information for the group, including relevant data
What you want your purpose to be:
Providing a ‘reality check’ for the Nutrient Management Boards and Technical Advisory Group
A monitoring role, filling existing gaps, and ensuring
Influencing; not only the NMB and TAG but wider policy making bodies in Wales
Protecting the environment of the rivers
Ensuring community buy in to any plans developed, by making sure that community voice is central to plan development
Gathering and sharing learning; developing a citizen science evidence base
Push for action!
With that in mind, we would like you to reflect prior to the next session on:
What would enable the stakeholder group to work together going forward?
Do you have any resources you/your organisation can share to support the work?
What is the role you would like to have within the group?
If you are not able to attend the next meeting, but would like to remain involved in the development of the Stakeholder Group, please email your thoughts on the questions above to firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the 24th and we will include your input
Welsh Government makes statement regarding Nutrient Management
The Welsh Government statement advised that the implementation date for the 170kg/ha annual limit is to be extended from 30 April 2023 to 31 October 2023 in order to allow more time to consider the consultation responses and allow farmers time to prepare once the outcome is announced.
Following on from the last online session it was identified that the importance of allocating roles and responsibilities of stakeholders to ensure longevity and effectiveness of the project/group is paramount. In addition, there is a need to establish what is the best way to communicate. Below is a link to a google survey. Please could you fill this out at your earliest convenience so that outcomes can be discussed at the next event on the 30th August. Link: https://forms.gle/AnmsXzEzECM5ip2VA
Please share this survey with anyone who can commit and provide value to the group.