Innovations That Matter

Planting woodland can help farms filter water runoff before it reaches local rivers | Photo source Pixabay

Planted woodland helps prevent water pollution from farm runoff

Agriculture & Energy

A program in Northern Ireland is helping farmers to plant woodland which will filter pollutants and silt out of farm runoff

Spotted: Farming is one of the areas that stands to be dramatically affected by climate change. This is one reason why sustainability has moved to the forefront of the industry. And in order to make farming more sustainable, it is often necessary to come up with new ways of thinking about waste management. In Northern Ireland, a dairy farmer is teaming up with conservationists with a unique approach to preventing water pollution.

Farmer John Doherty owns the 300-acre Crosshead Farm, where he has a herd of several hundred dairy cows. His land is on top of a hill which drains into the River Faughan, an important protected habitat, and home to otters and salmon, and a source of drinking water for nearby Derry. Doherty has been working with the Woodland Trust to plant four acres of woodland trees around a pond. 

In addition to planting the woodland, Doherty has redirected his drainage system to direct the water into the wood. This system is called a “wet wood” and it acts to contain any pollution and silt from the farm’s runoff, preventing it from reaching the river. In effect, it acts as a buffer between the farm and the river.

Although the wood and drainage system were additional costs for Doherty, the decision to build the system was not difficult. He said that the farm, “has been here for me and my father and his father and I want it to be here for the other generations and we do value where we are here so I think we have to do our bit.”

Sustainability is here to stay, and improving or building new woodlands is just one of many innovative ideas to help make sustainability more attractive to farmers. Other ideas covered here at Springwise include a sensor that measures plant stress and helps farmers to adjust their methods and a plan to build a better banana.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

Explore more: Agriculture & Energy Innovations | Sustainability Innovations

Website: woodlandtrust.org.uk

Contact: woodlandtrust.org.uk/contact-us

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