Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme
The Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme is a farmer-led nitrate trading scheme which provides farmers in the Poole Harbour catchment with an alternative approach to meeting their regulatory nutrient loss targets. Dorset Catchment Partnerships have supported the Poole Harbour Agriculture Group, who now own and administrate the scheme, since 2019. DCP has brought together various partners including the National Farmers Union, Wessex Water, the Environment Agency, Catchment Sensitive Farming, Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, Triodos Bank, Natural England and Dorset Council to help the farmer group to make the scheme financially viable, commercially robust and technically sound.
The aim of the scheme is to support and encourage farmers within Poole Harbour catchment to use more nutrient efficient farming practices and reduce the use of nitrates and other nutrients, in response to the Poole Harbour Consent Order Technical Investigation and Recommendations produced by the Environment Agency and Natural England.
Poole Harbour Agricultural Group and their partners have the following objectives:
- To provide a framework for delivering nutrient reductions into Poole Harbour from the agriculture sector whilst enabling offsetting by other sectors including water companies and developers.
- To influence the development of an effective Nutrient Accounting Tool that farmers can use to account for nutrient losses to the environment.
- To enable the trading of nutrient allocations between farms.
- To focus on improving water quality by reducing nitrates and, in time, delivering additional environmental benefits such as reducing phosphorus, sequestering carbon or making biodiversity gains.
The Poole Harbour Agricultural Group launched PHNMS for any farmer in the Poole Harbour catchment to join in winter 2022/23. 202 farmers joined in this initial year, completing a spreadsheet tool to confirm their compliance with various relevant agricultural legislation, and to calculate their nitrate losses to the environment in that farming year. This information will now act as a baseline. If the PHNMS membership as a group can demonstrate loss reductions in future years, they anticipate being able to trade these nitrate 'credits' with buyers looking for short-term offsets.
The Poole Harbour Agriculture Group has produced a report summarising the data from the scheme's initial membership year, which you can read below. For more information, please visit the scheme's website at pooleharbournitrates.org.uk.
Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme year 1 report and summary. Note that the details of participating farms have been redacted.
The Environment Agency has commissioned two short films explaining the need for a new approach to nutrient management in the Poole Harbour catchment, and how PHNMS is supporting the agriculture sector to deliver their obligations under the Consent Order: