In 2002 the Tale Valley Trust funded the Westcountry Rivers Trust to deliver a three year farm advice project within the Tale Valley. Grants were also contributed from other project partners, including the EA, EN, and a local landfill operator. Farm advice was delivered to 25 farms along the River Tale catchment, starting from its source above Broadhembury down to the confluence with the River Otter near Cadhay House.
A total of 4,683 acres (1,896 ha.) of farmland was surveyed to encourage best farming practice throughout the valley. Grants funded a number of improvement works including a total of 5.5 km of riparian fencing was erected, and 4 km of coppicing was completed to allow light back onto the river to create optimal riverine habitat conditions.
In 2012 the Devon Wildlife Trust, as part of this project, revisited 13 of the 25 farms to quantify how many continue to adhere to the farm advice from 2002. In addition, where the original advice is no longer being adhered to, new advice was given.
On all 13 farms visited, at least one (and in most cases several) of the actions which were listed in the opportunities in the 2002 report were taken up and have continued up to 2013. Of the 71 actions across the 13 farms in the 2002 reports, 49 were taken up. Forty five of these actions are ongoing or still evident in 2013.
This revisiting approach indicates that one of the most important aspects of good practice advice is the measure of adherence over time. Land ownership and economic landscapes change and therefore river improvements are only as robust as the longevity of the advice.