Farmers around the River Parrett and River Tone have successfully bid for £30,000 in a first of its kind online auction system for building natural flood management (NFM) called NaturETrade NFM. This new system allows farmers manage floods through natural measures by bidding for funds for such projects.
An important factor that contributed to the success of the farmers in Parrett and Tone is that they made use of an online map to select areas of their land on which they could implement the various natural measures, and then they went ahead and bid for the amount of funding they could provide that measure for.
This reverse auction scheme has been developed by the Environment Agency in partnership with the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAGSW) and Natural England, through the Catchment Sensitive Farming initiative, with funding being provided by Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA).
The auction system was opened for three weeks and farmers were invited to submit competitive bids that remained cost effective in delivering the selected measure. Farmers were encouraged to introduce measures such as planting crops that stop soil being washed off fields in winter, to planting hedges to slow the flow of water, and to aerating the soil to increase the amount of rain filtering into the ground.
In the first auction, better maize management was the most popular option of the 22 bids that were successful. The online tool creates an effective way for farmers to bid for funding.