UK farmers may have to cut livestock count to save rivers, says expert

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UK farmers may have to reduce the number of animals they keep because of the critical state of some river catchments, a pollution expert from the government’s environment watchdog has said.

Farming is the most significant source of water pollution and ammonia emissions into the atmosphere in the UK, according to government data. It accounts for 25% of phosphate, 50% of nitrate and 75% of sediment loadings in the water environment, which harms ecosystems.

Speaking independently, Tim Bailey of the Environment Agency said the state of catchments such as the River Wye and the Somerset Levels and Moors had become critical because of the number of chickens and dairy cows and the problem of disposing of manure from farms.

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