Trialling innovative farming methods with The Aquifer Partnership farms

The water stored in the chalk around Brighton is a resource, supplying drinking water to the residents and businesses of Brighton and Hove.

  • Farmers
19 Aug 2019
Roling hills farm hay bales

Intensive farming methods on the South Downs over the last few years have contributed to rising levels of nitrate, used as a fertiliser, in the raw water. Nitrate poses a risk to human health in large amounts, and water companies have a legal requirement to supply water with nitrate levels below a certain limit. Treatment processes to remove nitrate do exist, but they are expensive and use lots of energy. Instead, The Aquifer Partnership project is working with the farmers on the South Downs to help them manage their fertiliser more efficiently and sustainably.

Building on the success of farm trials on over-winter cover crops, The Aquifer Partnership project is working with two farms to trial innovative methods for managing nitrate. The first trial is designed to challenge the industry standard fertiliser recommendations to see if reducing applications of nitrogen has a significant impact on a farm business or the amount of nitrogen being lost to the environment. The second trial is aiming to assess whether the use of a foliar-applied nitrogen, rather than the more common granular fertilisers, is economically feasible and could reduce nitrate leaching.

Both trial plots were harvested in August 2019 and the first round of results are now in. A short summary of each can be found below.

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For more information on the rural work of The Aquifer Partnership, contact Robin Kelly 07795 640914.

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