Anglian Water to put collaboration with agriculture first at CropTec 2023

30 November 2023

News

Anglian Water has been named as one of the sponsors for this year’s CropTec conference, held at NAEC Stoneleigh in Warwickshire from 29-30 November.

The water company will have two stands, with both its catchment team and representatives from the Get River Positive programme available to discuss the role of water for agriculture. Anglian Water’s hub will focus on finding a way forward through the current challenges facing arable farmers, with panel discussions on both days of the conference.

It is inviting farmers and agronomists to drop into the Anglian Water hub at Hall 2, stand 214, where its eight catchment advisors will be available all day for one-to-one conversations about issues relating to water in agriculture – from abstraction licenses to the use of pesticides.

The Anglian Water hub will also host two panel discussions each day, at 11.45am and 1.15pm, with panellists including farmers from the company’s region, as well as agronomists, scientists, seed breeders and policy experts. The panel discussions, titled ‘The future of farming: Preparing for what the future might hold’, will focus on the economic, environmental and social challenges facing farmers in the coming decade and highlight opportunities to address these challenges through closer engagement with all the region’s key industries.

Farmers on the panel will include Guy Smith, whose Essex farm is believed to be the country’s driest; Andrew Ward from Lincolnshire; contractor and farmer Martin Williams; Simon Day, farm manager for A.H. Worth in Lincolnshire; and Tim Harper, commercial director for Blankney Estates. Chaired by Jill Hewitt, chief executive of the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, the other panellists include Alice Cannon from Farmacy; Pam Chambers, technical support manager for British Sugar; Ron Granger from Limagrain; and Tim Hess, Cranfield Professor of water and food systems.

Julie Jackson, Anglian Water’s catchment advisor for Lincolnshire – an also arable farmer herself – said: “We’re really pleased to be returning to CropTec this year. Engaging with farmers is vital to the work we do, and to keeping our region’s environment and water quality as healthy as possible.

“Our region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, as the driest part of the country, and yet we also have a higher than average percentage of land used for agriculture. We know the impact of climate change – alongside challenges with costs and commodity prices coming down – is already hitting farmers, and with 75% of land in our region used for agriculture, it’s hugely important that we work together to protect England’s breadbasket.

“As a catchment engagement team, we want farmers to know that we’re on their side. By working together, we can find ways to protect drinking water quality while also saving farmers money and time.”

Recent research commissioned by Anglian Water has shown that its region, in the East of England, faces critical challenges over the next two decades as a result of climate change – with temperatures hitting record highs and rainfall at lower levels than the rest of the UK. These challenges will hit local farmers particularly hard: with the East of England producing a fifth of the country’s crops and a third of its vegetables, collaboration between sectors is vital to protect the nation’s food supplies.

Experts from Anglian Water’s Get River Positive programme will also be attending both days of the conference, at hall 2, stand 242. Get River Positive was launched by Anglian Water and Severn Trent last year. The plan includes five pledges to transform river water quality across their regions and demonstrates a clear and actionable response to calls for a revival of rivers in England. Central to the pledges is a commitment that work carried out by the two water companies will ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers.

Supporting others to improve and care for rivers is also one of the central commitments of the Get River Positive programme – so collaboration with farmers is vital to Anglian Water’s work protecting and enhancing river health. The programme has already supported farmers to protect water quality through its cover crop fund, which saw an additional 1,000 hectares of cover crops planted in the East of England this summer. The company also funds a farm innovation grant, currently in its third year, which aims to find new and innovative solutions to local raw water quality challenges in priority catchments.