Thanks to funding from United Utilities, Groundwork continue to engage farmers in the Irwell Catchment about how to protect and enhance nature, with this programme focusing on how farmers can prevent phosphates entering nearby water courses.

Chemicals produced and used in farming practices, such as phosphate, have a negative impact on water quality and during periods of heavy rain, the likelihood of these chemicals reaching the waterbody increases.

Groundwork’s experienced agriculture consultant, Mick Holding, has been working with a number of framers during the programmes first 6 months of operation, building on the back of relationships developed through the Environmental Land Management Test and Trial programme which was funded by Defra in 2022-23.

Farms for Water

10 farms have already engaged with the programme, developing farm plans which identify methods of improving water quality. Measures include:

  • Hedge planting – where root systems help slow the flow of rainwater reaching the watercourse, and also add an abundance of wider environmental benefits from improved air quality to habits for nature
  • New roofing on sileage stores – reducing the amount of rain reaching the sileage and risk of creating overflows from the sileage store into the river
  • Managing grasslands
  • Aeration of compacted land so that soils become more absorbent
  • Creating ponds for natural flood management

By the end of the two year programme Groundwork aim to have supported 40 farmers to develop their own farm plans, which in turn will reduce an estimated 240kg of phosphates reaching the Irwell Catchment water body each year.


If you’re a farmer in the Irwell Catchment partnership who would like to work with Groundwork to improve your farmland and help protect nature, please contact Aimee Brough, Partnerships Manager at Groundwork.

This programme was developed by the Irwell Catchment Partnership and funded by United Utilities.