William Powell Country

Farmers Tackle the Phosphate Challenge


Article written by 15 November 2012

A partnership between the NFU, Environment Agency and farmers is looking to tackle the problems of a damaging water pollutant.

Excessive levels of phosphate can trigger the growth of algae and excessive weed growth leading to severe drops in dissolved oxygen and major impacts on fish and wildlife.

While phosphate levels in our streams and rivers are improving there is still much to do. In 1990 70 per cent of English rivers were assessed at ‘high’ phosphate levels, by 2008 this was still 50 per cent of river lengths. Much of this phosphate comes from human activity, with agriculture contributing 20 per cent of total phosphate.

Today the NFU and Environment Agency are launching a report that is the product of two years research into sources of phosphate pollution in freshwater. Together with farmers in two Anglian catchment areas, a five point plan and a monitoring regime will be implemented as recommended by the report.

NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “Our report marks a major step forward in understanding the role farming plays in phosphate pollution of rivers and streams.

“This industry has a big role to play in protecting our countryside, wildlife and above all water. Farmers depend on a healthy environment for their farming businesses. The report shows that working with the Environment Agency can be an effective way of agreeing the evidence base and targeting action to the best effect.”

The project has now started an implementation phase in Bourn Brook, Cambridgeshire and Harpers Brook, Northamptonshire.



The NFU champions British farming and provides professional representation and services to its Farmer and Grower members. It is the largest farming organisation in the UK, providing a strong, respected and independent voice for the indust.. Read more.

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