Drill cover crops with match funding this autumn


15 September 2023
Potato growers in the UK's Midlands can apply for match funding and receive free advice.

GROWERS drilling cover crops across the Midlands are being reminded to make the most of match funding and free specialist advice on offer via Severn Trent’s Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS).

Up to £175/ha is available to match fund seed purchases, as well as support from the water company’s team of agricultural advisers, on-farm soil testing and at-home webinar advice – free-of-charge.

Dr Alex Cooke, Principal Catchment Management Scientist at Severn Trent, said: “In the last round of STEPS grants, we funded over 5,500 ha of cover crops, which are vital tools in building healthy soils on-farm and improving water quality.”

A team of advisors is on-hand to discuss the most suitable cover crop options for each grower and recommend which mixes offer the most value for soil health and future field productivity. Having this information from an agronomist will improve the likelihood of an application being successful, Alex said.

“We can even offer fully funded Specialised On Farm Advice (SOFA) visits for support in areas beyond our own team’s expertise.” 

Alex said cover crops are invaluable for preventing soil damage during the wetter months, which is key to maximising future crop productivity and water quality.

Dr Alex Cooke

 “The most beneficial cover crop mix for each individual field will depend on the soil type, nutrient levels and any pest or disease that may be present.  For example, biofumigant species, such as Brown or Indian mustard and radish, can help control soil-borne pathogens, while deep-rooting species, such as radish, can scavenge nitrogen and retain it for use by subsequent crops.”

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The main STEPS match funding is available to farmers in priority catchments to address issues such as nitrates reaching watercourses. 

For more information and full eligibility criteria click here  or contact your local Severn Trent agricultural adviser for support with the application.

STEPS cover crop funding options include the following cover crop species:

  • Mustard
  • Oil radish
  • Winter turnip rape
  • Radish/phacelia/oat mix
  • Mustard/oat/phacelia mix
  • Forage rye/vetch mix
  • Under sowing maize mix - tall fescue and/or perennial ryegrass


The STEPS application window closes on December 31st, 2023.


How to apply:
  • Check you are in a priority catchment here: www.stwater.co.uk/steps
  • To increase your chances of a successful application, seek advice from your local Severn Trent agricultural adviser on what options would best suit your farm and make the greatest positive impact on the environment 
  • Fill out your application online before December 31st, 2023.

* Can you enter a person, product, company or campaign for one of the following awards? Submit an entry before September 20th and they could be in with a chance of being recognised at the National Potato Industry Awards 2023. Why not attend the event and enjoy an evening of celebration while networking with others from the British potato industry?

Best Environmental/Sustainability Initiative
Grower/Growing Manager of 2022-2023
Machinery and Implements