Affinity Water is offering funding to farmers in North Hertfordshire to grow cover crops this autumn/winter to benefit soil health and water quality. The scheme covers a catchment area that feeds important groundwater aquifers which Affinity Water relies on for drinking water supply. Growing cover crops is known to reduce the amount of nitrate that is leached through the soil to these sources and encouraging farmers in these high-risk areas to grow cover crops helps to protect the drinking water supply. As well as encourage the uptake of cover crops, Affinity Water aims to support farmers to introduce livestock into arable rotations.
In previous years Affinity Water has delivered an auction where farmers bid to grow cover crops, specifying mixture, and establishment and destruction date, and the funding that would like to receive. This year farmers have a choice of three cover crop options, each have a specific payment per hectare.
Each farm business in the eligible area can apply for up to £10,000 of cover crop funding.
The scheme opened on 1 June and closes on Friday 14 July 2023.
Funding will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
The three cover crop options are:
Option 1 is a grazed cover crop that pays at £70 per hectare. Other schemes are restrictive on grazing the cover crop. Affinity Water has created this option which allows grazing and aims to help farmers to integrate grazing into their arable rotations. A farmer can grow any cover crop which can be grazed at any time over the autumn/winter period. However, grazing must be kept light, to avoid the development of significant areas of bare soil or poaching.
Option 2 is a simple cover crop mix that pays at £130 per hectare. A farmer must establish a mixture containing a minimum of 2 cover crop species of their choice.
Option 3 is diverse cover crop mix that pays at £140 per hectare. A farmer must include a minimum of 4 cover crop species of their choice. Unlike other schemes cover crops that are entered in the SFI Intermediate Soil Standard, can be used in this option. Instead of £140 per hectare, they will receive £100 per hectare (£140 minus the £40 you’ll receive through SFI).
For option 2 and 3 the cover crop must be kept in place until the 15 January and grazing can only occur after this date.
For all cover crop options, the crop needs to be established by 15 September 2023.
The scheme area is shown below. If you farm in the eligible area and are interested in applying for this scheme, please email email@example.com.