Catchment Sensitive Farming: Practical Tips

Practical Tip: Sacrifice areas

The Environment Agency's publication 'Best farming practice: profiting from a good environment' has the following advice for choosing a suitable sacrifice area:

  • Choose drier, level fields that are away from watercourses for out-wintering stock
  • Use a permanent pasture field with perennial ryegrass or other dense grass cover to protect the soil
  • Select your sacrifice field very carefully to ensure there is no visible run-off into watercourses or ditches. If run-off is observed, divert it through rough grass to trap sediment before it enters watercourses
  • Use multiple feeders and watering points in well drained areas that are well-spaced and provide hard bases
  • Plan how you will restore the soil by slot seeding in the spring, removal of soil compaction, ploughing and re-seeding, or using a suitable rotational crop. The use of specialist harrows with grass boxes is a recent development
  • Fence woods and coverts and protect specimen trees

Keep outdoor pigs on a well-established grass sward to help protect the soil and to reduce the loss of nutrients

A poorly chosen sacrifice field causes run-off and water pollution.

In the longer term the following should be considered:

  • Manage your ditches to increase vegetation and help trap sediment
  • Review the cost-benefit of adapting existing buildings or using new, low-cost, purpose-built options, e.g. polytunnels for housing livestock
  • Plant shelter belts to protect stock and encourage them to use well-drained areas
  • Fence off wet areas and streams to reduce fluke and worm

Source: Environment Agency


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