Project Overview

The Farms for Water project, made possible thanks to funding from the Water Environment Grant (WEG), enabled Groundwork to work with local farmers to deliver a range of actions to improve the water quality of the River Irwell.

A number of contributing factors led to the River Irwell not reaching the standards required under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), including high phosphate levels and historic agricultural land management processes.

Groundwork have been engaging with farmers from across the catchment for several years to identify key locations and projects which will best address water quality.


Measures introduced as part of the Farms For Water project in the Irwell catchment included:

  • The covering of several nutrient stores,
  • Planting thousands of hedge plants and several hectares of woodland,
  • Reconditioning of many hectares of compacted soils to improve their ability to filter water,
  • The development of the Big Balsam Bash campaign, aiming to reduce the dominance of Himalayan Balsam, an invasive species which contributes to poor water quality, from riverbanks in and around woodland and grassland Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Farms for Water

The projects delivered through this project lead to a number of positive outcomes, including:

  • Water quality improvements due to reduced run off and erosion from farms
  • Improved abundance and diversity of native species
  • Improved habitats for dragonflies, other invertebrates and a number of birds

In the video below we hear from several farmers who were previously sceptical about working on environmental projects like this, whom are now advocates in their community

Made possible thanks to funding from:

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas