A MALVERN farmer’s meadows are blooming with wildlife and flowers, thanks to a Severn Trent grant scheme.
Farmer Tim Smith has benefited from a number of Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS) grants, which aim to prevent pesticides, nitrates and cryptosporidium from reaching rivers, watercourses and groundwater to protect drinking water quality and the wider environment.
The creation of the meadow has helped by aiding biodiversity to attract insects, the natural predators of crop pests.
Through the scheme, farmers can apply for grants of up to £30,000 for projects like pesticide washdown areas with rainwater harvesting, over winter cover crops and help with livestock fencing.
STEPS has so far awarded more than 2,160 grants to farmers for a wide range of projects which have led to many environmental benefits, including the creation of more than 4,600 hectares of new habitat.
The habitats support insect and mammal populations that can attract birds to the area which, in turn, supports the natural predator population – all helping control crop-damaging aphids and slugs.
Farmer Smith has now switched from arable farming to making his land an environmental and wildlife haven, having also signed up for the Government’s similar Countryside Stewardships scheme.
Tim said: “STEPS has totally changed the way in which I farm. If I had not done these STEPS options I would not have seen the benefit and increase in wildlife which they bring and would not have entered the whole of the farm into a combination of wildlife schemes.
“I have learned a lot about establishing and maintaining these areas – which is totally different from arable farming – by doing small areas over several years.
“Farming, like a lot of industries, is facing challenging times at the moment.
“That is why schemes like STEPS can provide a valuable alternative income stream, especially on unproductive areas of land.
“The continued rise in machinery prices and volatility in commodity prices makes life interesting. Schemes like STEPS, giving a guaranteed income for the term of the scheme, help make things less uncertain.”
Susey Bamber, senior agricultural advisor at Severn Trent, said: “For every pound spent, we can make between a £2 and £20 saving in water treatment costs. That can really help customer bills.
“Our advisors help farmers select the appropriate options to apply for.
“I believe a grant only works, if it supports a customer to do something they were thinking of doing but need a little assistance to implement the improvement.
“That’s why it is worth farmers working with their local advisor to make the right application.
“Lots of people I work with believe they are the custodians of the land. They want to leave it in the same or better condition they received it in and are sad they lost their wildlife from when they were little.
“I’m really proud to work for Severn Trent and I want to leave a positive legacy behind me. I feel my job is helping me leave that legacy.”
Visit https://www.stwater.co.uk/ for more information. Farmers and landowners can continue to apply for STEPS Water Quality funding until December 31 and Spring STEPS funding until October 31.