New advice on environmentally friendly potato production could prove invaluable to UK growers looking to secure recently launched grants to help reduce water pollution.
Information about schemes to help growers reduce environmental risks and achieve sustainable production, is contained in a booklet, Environmental guidance for potato production, a joint initiative between Potato Council, FWAG and England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative.
"The potato sector has its own diffuse water pollution risks, given its unique soil structural issues and the use of specific pesticides and nutrients," says Potato Council technical executive Chris Steele.
The booklet's launch follows an announcement that at least £7.5m has been made available to farmers in 50 priority catchment areas across England, including most key potato growing areas, to fund a range of measures to reduce diffuse pollution into watercourses.
Growers can apply for up to £10,000 from the Catchment Sensitive Farming Capital Grants Scheme to finance improvements to reduce the movement of water and pesticides into streams and rivers.
The aim is to benefit people and wildlife living downstream of agricultural operations and to reduce the amount of public money currently spent on water treatment.
"The grants are competitive, so farmers putting together the highest quality applications will stand the best chance of being selected," says Mr Steele. "This booklet will provide plenty of valuable advice, all being well giving them a head start when it comes to securing funds."
Environmental Guidance for Potato Production can be found at http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/farming/csf/default.aspx or from FWAG, Potato Council and Catchment Sensitive Farming.
Farmers can check if their land lies in a priority catchment at http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/landmanage/water/csf/grants/index.htm .
The window for applications opened on March 1 and will close on April 30.