MANAGING water and air quality on the farm is an essential skill for the next generation of farmers, and a subject close to Eden Rivers Trust’s heart.

To bring the subject to life for agricultural students, the Trust has been involved with the organisation of The Great Farm Challenge over the past few years.

With a mix of talks from government agencies and utility provider, United Utilities (UU), demos and a farm visit, the challenge’s aim was to increase awareness of best practice with students from Newton Rigg College at Penrith.

However, this year the coronavirus pandemic meant that the challenge wouldn’t be going ahead as normal. Despite this, Andy Dyer from Eden Rivers Trust and Dan Stamper from Newton Rigg College were determined to find a way to give students a chance to still hear from experts and apply their learning to a real-life farm.

Re-imagined as a virtual event, the renamed “Waste and Pollution Day” was brought direct to 26, second year students studying the City and Guilds Advanced Extended Technical Diploma in Agriculture through the power of Zoom from United Utilities, Catchment Sensitive Farming, the Environment Agency and the Trust.

The speakers talked about key topics such as the importance of peatlands and how to prevent pollution and deal with issues before they become a big problem.

Other hot topics were also covered, including the storage and management of slurry and silage and understanding the legislation in place to protect water courses (SSAFO and Farming Rules for Water). To recreate the farm visit, the Trust commissioned a drone survey of a local farm, giving the students a unique, birds-eye view of the challenges facing the farm.