Severn Rivers Trust and Robert Owen Community Banking Fund are coming together to work with farmers in the Newtown area who are interested in improving water and soils management for the dual benefits of improved business performance and enhanced environmental quality.
Coordinated by Open Newtown this project is funded through the Welsh Government Rural Development Programme and forms part of a wider partnership which brings businesses and organisations in Newtown and its surrounding areas, engaging communities and develops practical solutions for sustainably managing their natural resources alongside. Key will be piloting practical models enabling local people to better manage, and benefit from, their environment.
Our farmed environment is under pressure from issues such as loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and nutrient overload to name but a few. As a result, farm businesses are not able to operate at their optimum efficiency. These pressures are only likely to increase with the impact of climate change and the uncertainty as a post Brexit farming future is devised. There is also a lack of value and understanding of farming practises from the urban consumer, even in a rural market town the size of Newtown.
Severn Rivers Trust – through their farm advisor Adrian Kinner-Smith – will be on the front-line with farmers offering a farm visit, survey and report looking to identify the practical opportunities for improvement linked to water, soils and carbon on the farm; from water harvesting to sequestering carbon to improve yields.
Starting this winter (’21-’22) on the catchment of the Mochdre Brook the project will then become available (during 2022) to farmers in the Mwle and Brechan catchments followed by Nant Rhyd Rhos Lan river catchment.
Water, soils and carbon are all essential for the farming business, but they are also capable of delivering what are being called ecosystem services; services like holding back water to prevent flooding, sequestering carbon to help prevent climate change, creating better soil habitats for wildlife etc. Robert Owen Community Banking Fund have the responsibility of identifying new sources of finance that are able to pay for these ‘services’ and which can form part of a farmers future income.
The partnership plans to establish a farmer’s cluster in the Newtown area, bringing farmers together and working with them to develop solutions to mitigate against existing and future pressures, building a more resilient business.
Along the way the project hopes to build more – and more valued – connections between the residents of Newtown and the farmers that surround and serve it, to enhance the understanding between the farming community and the urban consumer.
Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust form the third partner in the project, on hand to help identify how, whilst doing practical pilots, we can restore some of our wildlife in tandem with enhancing farm incomes.
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