Yorkshire agricultural landscape. Photo: Kevin Hicks/SEI

While there is growing awareness of the problems with pollutants, and many farmers are tackling this, in many cases it is on an individual and ad-hoc basis. In the current landscape with planned policy changes and consultation on those changes, now is an ideal time to ensure evidence supports the development of more coherent and joined up approaches, such as the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM) .

The project has been developed using recommendations from stakeholders working in farming, agricultural policy and scientific research who attended a Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) sponsored workshop in March 2019 to explore approaches to integrated nitrogen management (INM).

The project will take a holistic approach and aims to assess key issues including the influence of nitrogen management on soil structure and function, the implications of different farmer practices, the potential benefits and trade-offs of farmer actions, and the implications of the new Agriculture Bill for farmer practice and environmental outcomes. The Bill, passed in November 2020, sets out how farmers and land managers in England will be rewarded in the future with public money for “public goods” – such as improved air and water quality, thriving wildlife, soil fertlity, or measures to reduce flooding and tackle climate change effects, through the ELM scheme.

Field of cows
Photo: Jean McKendree/SEi

Outputs of the project will be user-friendly guidance and briefing papers to support INM both at the individual farm level and to support developing national policy. Key stakeholders will be involved in developing the guidance, providing an end-user perspective to ensure its suitability for the target audience.