Funded by Defra, the projects will look at ways to improve on-farm storage capacity so that water can be captured during winter and stored for use in drier months to reduce reliance on surface and groundwater abstraction.

One option being considered is the potential of developing collaboration between farms in a bid to share the cost of water collection, abstraction, storage and distribution.

The scheme was launched over concerns that the current drought status of the south east, south and parts of the Midlands could lead to poor crops if farmers are unable to access sufficient water.

Another option being mooted considers evaluating the potential for increased use of lower quality water. The project also tries to estimate the impact of climate change on the availability of water for both crop and livestock production.

As part of the project, ADAS, which was named best consultancy in edie’s Environmental Excellence Awards 2010, will use its water use model ‘Irriguide’ to assess crop demand for a range of climate scenarios and produce spatial data that will map future water demand and availability.

The information will then be captured in a user friendly web-based GIS software tool to help farmers and growers assess future risks and review adaptation options.

A water management toolkit, which provides practical advice to help farmers and growers monitor overall water use, plan for the future, and show how savings can be made, has also been developed.

Entries to edie’s Sustainability Leaders Awards, formerly the Environmental Excellence Awards, are open now and more information can be found here.

Carys Matthews

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