Crookhurst Water Environment Grant

What we’re doing

Whilst working on farms in the catchment during the  Ellenwise project, we identified common areas for improvement to enhance water quality, including:

  • insufficient slurry storage
  • compacted grassland soils
  • livestock access to water

In 2019 we were awarded funding from the Water Environment Grant to deliver a three-year project to undertake improvement works, enabling us to support farmers and landowners to address these issues.

Our aims are to:

  • reduce agricultural sources of phosphate and faecal material entering the catchment’s watercourses to improve water quality in the Crookhurst Beck and Allonby Bathing Water
  • reduce rapid overland surface flow
  • establish vegetated buffer strips on banksides to reduce erosion and provide habitat for small mammals

Project progress

We’ve been working with ten farmers and landowners to plan and design projects to improve water quality. Work has now been completed at numerous sites and some examples are illustrated below.

Example works: Slurry stores

Two new slurry stores have been built on farms in the catchment. With increased slurry storage capacity, farmers can better plan when manure is applied during the growing season and avoid spreading in the autumn and winter when the risk of runoff into watercourses is greatest. Other measures include roofing dirty yards and improvements to yard drainage to reduce the amount of rainfall being collected by the slurry store.

Slurry stores

Example works: Fencing 

Over 2.5 km of fencing has been erected along stretches of the catchment’s watercourse that are vulnerable to livestock trampling. Some areas have been planted up with trees by the local primary school, which will in time provide woody buffer strips and much needed shade to keep the watercourse cool. 

Before and after the fencing 

Watch this space because there are a number of projects currently underway and due to be completed in summer and autumn 2021.

Shared soil aerator

As well as capital works, the project has funded the purchase of a soil aerator, which is shared by farmers in the catchment and used to improve the land by mechanically loosening compacted grassland soils. Reducing soil compaction leads to more water infiltrating the ground where it can be used by crops, rather than running off to a nearby watercourse. By July 2021 the aerator had been used on over 250 hectares of land in the catchment.

Here’s the aerator in action on a farm near Allonby: 

Funders and partners

The ‘Sustained P Reduction in the Crookhurst Catchment’ project has received funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (project reference number: WEG232-2018-2896).