Water Wise Farming

‘Work with the agricultural industry to reduce the loss of pollutants into watercourses’

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Farming is the largest land use within the catchment of the River Dee and the backbone of the rural community. Every day farms are working with soil and nutrients to provide us with the food we eat. Unfortunately, these are also two of the biggest pollutants damaging the water environment.

Through our Water Wise Farming programme, we work confidentially with busy farmers to identify new practices and investment needed to keep nutrients and soil in the areas where they benefit the farm business and out of the River Dee. We provide support, grant funding and peer to peer learning opportunities to benefit both farm businesses and the river.

Ty Gwyn Farm* Case Study

Ty Gwyn Farm is an 85-hectare beef and sheep farm in the Alyn Catchment. In 2021, Welsh Dee Trust first began working with the farm to improve water management in the farmyard with the aim of eliminating small sources of pollution.

The farm has two ditches which take water away from the farmyard and during our initial visit both of these were found to contain high levels of phosphates and discolouration. The source was identified as run-off from areas which were heavily trafficked by livestock. Welsh Dee Trust identified a suite of projects to eliminate these sources of pollution. New guttering was fitted on sheds to keep clean roof water away from trafficked areas, a new drain was fitted to stop clean water from entering the slurry lagoon and new fences were installed to keep livestock away from watercourses. For a belt and braces approach a wetland was constructed downstream of the yard to trap and polish the clean water leaving the farm.

In total, the farm over two years has invested £4,414.50 into improving water quality matched with the same amount from Welsh Dee Trust. Work in 2023 will focus on soil health improvements on the farm to improve water infiltration and grass growth.

(*The name of the farm has been changed to ensure confidentiality).


In 2022 the Water Wise Farming programme focussed again on the Alyn catchment, working with farms to reduce the impact of agricultural pollution in the largest tributary of the Dee. The programme has now been working in this catchment for two years and is reaching a point where most landowners are aware of the issues and many have received support. There is still work in the catchment to be undertaken but the cumulative outcomes are starting to have a real effect.

The programme also started working in the English part of the Dee for the first time in 2022, the impact will be more widely spread but the focus has been on building new relationships with farms allowing greater impact in later years in this important and more intensively farmed area of the Dee catchment.

In the near future, the hope is that the programme will begin to work evenly over the entire Dee catchment, working with farms where the most benefits can be generated. This will need an increase in both funding and staff from our programme’s current single project officer.

Farms worked with

Farmyard pollution interventions

Acres of soil improved