A PARTNERSHIP between the NFU, Environment Agency and farmers is looking to tackle the problems of a damaging water pollutant.

Excessive levels of phosphate can trigger the growth of algae and excessive weed growth leading to drops in dissolved oxygen and major problems for fish and wildlife.

While phosphate levels in streams and rivers are improving, there is still much to do. In 1990, 70 per cent of English rivers were assessed at high phosphate levels. By 2008 this was still 50 per cent of river lengths. Much of the phosphate comes from human activity, with agricultural contributing 20 per cent of total phosphate.

The NFU and the Environment Agency have launched a report after two years’ research into sources of phosphate pollution in fresh water and a fivepoint plan and monitoring regime will be implemented.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “This industry has a big role to play in protecting our countryside, wildlife and, above all, water. Farmers depend on a healthy environment for their farming businesses.

The report shows that working with the EA can be an effective way to agreeing the evidence base and targeting action to the best effect.”