How Coca‑Cola and Norfolk Rivers Trust are working with farmers to improve soil health, water management, biodiversity, and carbon storage.

The Coca‑Cola Foundation and The Norfolk Rivers Trust (NRT) launched the fourth phase of the Water Sensitive Farming (WSF) initiative in February 2022 to protect and restore one of the UK’s most water-stressed areas.

Over the past nine years, the WSF has worked closely with farmers, landowners and the agricultural industry in the Broadland Rivers, Cam and Ely Ouse, N. Norfolk, and N.W. Norfolk River catchments, helping to promote and support the environmental changes required to revitalise areas starved of water.

The aim of the initiative is to help change the future of agricultural production in the area, by supporting the restoration of freshwater environments, nature, and landscape resilience.

Water Sensitive Farming is supporting British agriculture through a significant period of change, providing free, trusted, and confidential practical farm advice. This will help to improve soil health, water management, biodiversity, and carbon storage.

Research, collaboration, and innovation are key ambitions of the initiative, with the aim of involving farmers in the project as early as possible. Such collaboration will prove especially beneficial across key industries in the region, such as the sugar beet supply chain, providing access to the latest cutting-edge science and technology advice.

Through highlighting the benefits of the initiative, we can encourage farmers to protect and restore local freshwater environments at a catchment-scale to preserve and improve the environment. Those benefits are clear to see; A better understanding of local water issues will help farmers to reduce its impact on the surroundings, whether from flooding, drought, or rising sea levels.

The WSF will also provide farmers and landowners with a better understanding of how the environment recovers. By embracing such knowledge and creating and managing natural spaces within the wider farmed landscape more efficiently, famers and landowners can help to drive greater biodiversity across the region. Such changes can range from adding trees or hedges to field boundaries, to restoring wetlands in appropriate areas of a farm.

After all, farmers and landowners are better placed than most to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, with the potential to make positive change to the environment while improving farm sustainability along with food and drink supply chain resilience.

Together, this forms the bedrock of what will become the fourth phase of our UK project to meet the Courtauld 2030 Water ambitions to reduce food waste, cut carbon, and protect critical water resources.

The initiative will include replenishing 500 million litres of water, along with planting over 1,500 trees to stabilise banks. We will also work closely with local farmers to create a minimum of 20 on-farm wetlands, ponds, and silt traps, and even restore stretches of degraded chalk stream.

A Partnership that Believes in Water Purity

Although the fourth phase of our initiative only began earlier this year, we're proud to say that the Coca‑Cola Foundation has been working with the Norfolk Rivers Trust for over 10 years to replenish water and implement critical nature-based solutions in East Anglia.

The key to our success so far lies in a local focus, bringing together local knowledge and expertise to help communities better understand and manage natural resources. Farmers are an essential part of the initiative’s solution, helping to make UK farming more sustainable and environmentally aware.

The creation of a training programme that delivers and promotes sustainability best practice both locally and nationwide is another essential component of the enterprise. Such information helps increase the quality and depth of advice given to farmers and land managers.

It also helps to amplify the impact of Water Sensitive Farming across the UK by sharing knowledge and best practice with the Rivers Trust movement and other NGO advisers, as well as suppliers and Courtauld 2030 signatories.

The journey of the Norfolk Rivers Trust and The Coca‑Cola Foundation is an engaging, passionate, and ongoing partnership, and we look forward to bringing you further updates on the project in the near future.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more, explore Norfolk Rivers Trust | Water Sensitive Farming