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Farmers and environment officers tackle phosphates

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

REPORT: Meurig Raymond.

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FARMERS and environment officers are combining in a new plan to try to reduce the impact of phosphates in rivers and other water courses.

The partnership between the NFU and the Environment Agency covers large stretches of farmland.

It follows two years research into sources of phosphate pollution in freshwater, resulting in a five point plan and a monitoring regime to reduce excessive levels of phosphate.

The chemical can trigger the growth of algae and weeds leading to reduced oxygen for fish and wildlife.

In 1990, 70 per cent of English rivers were assessed as having "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 the phosphate total.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: "Our report marks a major step forward in understanding the role farming plays in the pollution of rivers and streams.

"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."

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