A CAMPAIGN has been launched to highlight the dangers of growing high-risk crops in the south west. 

The Environment Agency (EA) has said some crops - including maize, fodder beet, potatoes and other root vegetables - can lead to pollution and floodng in parts of Cornwall and north and east Devon. 

This is due to underlying soil types, slope and proximity to sensitive watercourses, roads and properties. 

The EA has said that inadequate management of high-risk crops on these soil types can cause serious flooding and pollution, affecting nearby properties and wildlife.

They say that farmers who grow high risk crops in Devon and Cornwall should 'take reasonable measures to prevent soil-erosion and muddy run-off'. The EA added that enforcement action can be considered if these measures have not been taken. 

The EA explains that: "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."

This campaign is part of the EA's plan to reate more climate-resilient places and infrastructure by 2025. They have said if farmers continue to grow these high risk crops in certain locations, they will need to develop 'site specific meaures to prevent soil erosion and run-off'. 

James Wimpress, land management project manager for the EA in Devon and Cornwall, said: "The farming industry has made good progress in dealing with problems associated with run-off, but more frequent extreme weather means that further action must be taken to prevent flooding and pollution in the future.

"We want to raise awareness of how devastating flooding is when exacerbated by the production of high-risk crops in unsuitable locations, so farmers can make more sustainable decisions in line with our changing climate."

The EA has consulted both the National Farmers Union and Maize Growers Association about this campaign, and both have given support.