Updated May 2, 2024

Log in →

Fund launched to help farmers manage water resources

Groups of farmers will be offered support to work together to store water and protect against the impact of drought through a new fund launched by the government on Monday 22 April.

The £1.6 million fund will be used by farmers to investigate different methods to manage water in their area. Projects could include:

  • multi-farm reservoirs;
  • treated waste-water recycling systems;
  • water trading and sharing schemes.

The fund will support around 20 studies and will also investigate water demand and availability in the most water-stressed agricultural areas over the next 25-year period.

It delivers on the Prime Minister's commitment at last year's Farm to Fork Summit to support farmers to identify local water resource schemes which will help to build resilience into the water supply, support food production, and safeguard food security.

Applications opened on the 22 April with groups of two or more neighbouring farms eligible to apply. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 16 June.

Water Minister Robbie Moor said: "Water is our most valuable resource, and we want to support farmers to come together to manage it efficiently on their land".

"By storing water when it’s wet, they’ll have more to use when it’s dry – helping to support food production and boost the resilience of farm businesses across the country".

Phillip Duffy, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said: "Climate change, increased demand, and the need to protect the environment mean that up to 5bn extra litres of water will be needed in England every day by 2050".

"By working together, farmers can make a huge positive impact in improving our use of water resources, making sure they have water to use in times of drought and safeguarding our food security".

The fund will help to identify opportunities to build on the success of existing projects, including:

  • Felixstowe Hydrocycle: a multi-farm project currently repurposing more than 0.5 million tonnes of excess land drainage water per year, the equivalent of more than 225 Olympic swimming pools which would otherwise be lost to sea, for agricultural irrigation on six farms;
  • Lincoln Water Transfer: a member organisation where 19 farms share a single abstraction licence to take water from Fossdyke Navigation to irrigate 4,600 hectares of land, using a pool system to allocate water which creates greater flexibility in land and water use.

The Environment Agency will also use the fund to work with stakeholders such as farmers, landowners and Water Abstractor Groups to safeguard a healthy farming sector in future and highlight the needs of agriculture in Regional Water Resources Plans.

The funding builds an existing support from government to help farmers make efficient use of water resources such as the Water Management Grant, as well as setting strict targets for water companies to deliver a 50% reduction in leakage from 2017/18 levels by 2050.

View all stories