The Welsh Assembly has teamed up with the Environment Agency to set up a scheme that will recognise and reward good work being done by the country’s farmers.

The Simple Solutions Farm Award was launched at the beginning of April and farmers are being invited to put forward schemes that improve their profits and the local environment at the same time.

The hope is that the best schemes will act as models that others might want to adopt, while demonstrating that what is good for the environment can also be good for the bottom line of the business.

The winning farmer will receive professional advice worth £1,000 from Farming Connect, the Welsh Assembly’s support service for the agricultural sector, and a £1,250 grant to carry out more environmental works on their farm.

A runner up will receive a £750 grant.

Chris Mills, director of Environment Agency Wales, said: “Some farmers are making simple, inexpensive changes to their farms which reduce their impact on local rivers and the countryside and we feel this should be recognised.

“These farmers are also seeing that these changes can improve profitability and stock welfare.

“In the current financial climate, we understand that squeezing every last drop of profit from their activities is the driving force for every farmer.

“However, the important thing is that the changes they make can not only achieve greater profitability but also reduce the impact of the farm on the environment.

“We hope we can show with this award that these changes are simple, easy and make economic and environmental sense.”

Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs Elin Jones added: “This Simple Solutions Farming Award will acknowledge the important work farmers are carrying out on their holdings to protect the environment, which in turn can help the farm business.

“By encouraging simple, cost effective changes to farming practices, I hope that this Award will lead to farmers sharing best practice and taking simple measures to improve water quality and address issues such as nutrient management, diffuse pollution and climate change.”

Examples of the schemes that could apply include:

  • Improvements to cattle tracks that reduce lameness and reduce run off
  • Covering slurry stores that increase slurry storage and improve nutrient content
  • Creating a reed bed system to clean up grey water from yards and reduce run off
  • Roofing of yards to keep rain off and reduce the amount of dirty water to deal with
  • Collecting rainwater to use as drinking water for stock
  • Entries need to be received by the 25 June 2010 and the winners will be announced in the Royal Welsh Agriculture Show.

    Sam Bond

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