A group of agriculture students at Writtle College have come second in a Natural England competition.
The three Further Education students were one point away from coming first in the South East Inter College competition on catchment sensitive farming.
The Level 3 students went head to head with teams from Sparsholt, Chichester, Plumpton and Hadlow colleges.
Rebecca Harris, FE Lecturer in Agriculture at Writtle College, said: “The girls were outstanding. This was a challenging task as it meant first analysing a farm’s practices and then suggesting improvements to make it more environmentally friendly.
“Catchment Sensitive Farming is all about having a proactive approach to diffuse pollution, delivering practical solutions and targeting support to enable farmers and land managers to take voluntary action to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture to protect water bodies and the environment. The team showed they had engaged with the subject and confidently suggested some excellent practical solutions, which clearly impressed the judges.”
For the competition, the students visited a 245 hectare dairy farm in Kent and analysed the current environmental impact of its livestock and crop enterprises as well as its current environmental management schemes. They then planned how these could be improved in the future. Their suggestions included:
• A spraying area or chemical store so all chemicals could be safely filtered and decomposed in a bio-bed producing clean, safe water.
• A filling area where oil changes and petrol filling could be carried out and an oil interceptor to separate the oil from water for safe disposal.
• A muck barn to stop rainwater from reaching the muck heap and creating effluent.
• A cover for the cow yard to stop slurry run-off and feed waste.
• Reed beds to purify the water and a bio-digester to produce energy and prevent greenhouse gas emissions.
• A cattle grid to prevent water running down the drive into water courses.
For the final, the team had to present their findings at Shooters Hill, in Kent, before the judges chose the winner.