Group of people on a hillside
Group of people on a hillside

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Jenny  Walking Sheep Up Street
Jenny Walking Sheep Up Street

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Beekeepers examining a frame of bees
Beekeepers examining a frame of bees

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Group of people on a hillside
Group of people on a hillside

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  • Harriet Bell

Notes of the discussion on the public good theme of Clean and Plentiful Water

Defra have outlined that ELMs will finance farmers primarily through the delivery of 6 public goods. These are:

  • Clean air

  • Clean and plentiful water

  • Protection from and mitigation of environmental hazards

  • Mitigation of and adaptation to climate change

  • Thriving plants and wildlife

  • Beauty, heritage and engagement

As part of the Dartmoor ELMs Test and Trial our volunteer farmer Advisory Team are discussion each theme and what they think it should entail as part of a Land Management Plan. The Land Management Plan should have the with potential application to cover home farms, commons and possibly home farms and commons together. The Team met virtually on the 15th of June to discuss "Clean and Plentiful Water".

If you farm or own land on Dartmoor and have thoughts about what should be included within this theme it's not too late to share them with us by taking part in our questionnaire on Clean and Plentiful Water.

What works when it comes to good water management?

  • Interested in grazing practice and how we can adjust grazing to improve water management, particularly runoff and erosion.

  • Natural regen of trees has worked really well, following improving the soil. It looks messy but the biodiversity is good and the animal performance is good.

  • It’s not about density of stock, it’s about how long stock is left on the land. Wants to demonstrate how sheep can lead to good management.

  • Wants to put in ponds to slow water coming off farm.

  • Get stock off the land when it’s really wet, so we need better infrastructure as ours is not fit for purpose, we need investment in infrastructure so soil can have an opportunity to rest. This view was widely supported.

  • Thinks Dartmoor style type of farming is inherently better for water.

  • Joined up planning for commons grazing and in-bye land.

  • Balance between woodland, wetland and other habitats.

  • Would more winter flooding of certain fields be feasible?

  • Would prefer to have cows out on the commons winter, on the understanding it’s better to be out there on winter for biodiversity – this isn’t always appropriate, it’s farm and site specific.

  • We have a good understanding, thanks to the University of Exeter map of Dartmoor peat, including depth to some degree, and erosion.

  • Payment for re-wetted peat (figure needs reviewing/maps of Dartmoor peat are available online.)

  • Pool creation on the deep peat on the high moor in Exmoor helps drag the cattle into the high moor.

  • Upstream thinking approach rolled out across Dartmoor and continue it, received lots of support. Only criticism is that the threshold for capital is set too low.

  • Rainwater harvesting infrastructure and storage.

  • Could we bring everyone together in one plan – this is what we’ve got, this is where we want to go, this is how we get there.

  • Support for fencing to help with good management of headlands, soil etc.

  • Minimum till cultivation.

  • Joined up, cohesive vision for a catchment has greater impact.

  • Support for permanent pasture.

  • Blocking drains on new takes isn’t off the table, in some places it might be appreciated.

  • There are farmers interested in re-naturalising water courses.

  • Beavers - worry that it’s about appropriate management, they move so farmers just need to have the ability to manage them if they move to areas where the cause a problem, or to cover the costs of any problematic impacts in the landscape e.g clearing culverts.


  • Erosion of paths due to use and mountain bikes on the common.

  • We need to get more people in Dartmoor able to get involved in the peat restoration work, get them the machinery and the knowledge.


  • On peat restoration.

  • Detailed advice and planning on how to capture water on the farm to accompany payments for infrastructure.

Collaborative working

  • For peat restoration machinery pool.

  • It would be good if across the catchment there were options for individuals but top-up payment for collaborating.


  • Time lapse photos really all you need for water features.

  • Vegetation monitoring.

  • Carbon in the peat.


  • We need clarity and consistency of vision.


  • Blended finance to manage water across a catchment might help pull people together.

If you would also like to see results from our questionnaire on the public good theme of "Clean and plentiful water" they're available here:

Unfortunately you will not be able to see any written comments as this option cannot be enabled without sharing personal data, sorry. If you'd really like the comments please email me on and I'll do my best to send them to you.

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