The Environment Agency has launched a campaign to highlight the risks of growing high-risk crops, which can lead to pollution and flooding, in the South West of England

Parts of Cornwall and north and east Devon are considered at risk due to underlying soil types, slope and proximity to sensitive watercourses, roads and properties. Inadequate management of high-risk crops on these soil types can cause serious flooding and pollution, affecting nearby properties and wildlife.

These high-risk crops, as classified by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, include maize, fodder beet, potatoes and other root vegetables.

Farmers who grow maize and other high-risk crops in Devon and Cornwall should take reasonable measures to prevent soil-erosion and muddy run-off, says the Environment Agency. Enforcement action could be considered if it is found such measures have not been taken.

When large areas of light soils are bare for long periods of time, particularly in the spring and early summer, they are vulnerable during heavy rainfall events. Light soils are prone to capping which reduces infiltration and increases the likelihood of flooding and pollution incidents associated with agricultural run-off on steep slopes.

Heavy clay soils and the slowly-draining soils that are either over deep clay or influenced by groundwater, lie naturally wet near the surface for long periods. These soils are at high-risk of compaction and run-off.

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