Groups of farmers in England will be offered new government funding to work together to store water and protect against the impact of drought.

The £1.6 million fund, launched on April 22, will be used by farmers to investigate different methods to manage water in their area.

Projects could include multi-farm reservoirs, treated waste-water recycling systems, water trading and sharing schemes.

Applications have opened today for groups of two or more neighbouring farms, supporting around 20 studies.

It will also investigate water demand and availability in the most water-stressed agricultural areas over the next 25-year period.

Water Minister Robbie Moore said: “Water is our most valuable resource, and we want to support farmers to come together to manage it efficiently on their land.

“By storing water when it’s wet, they’ll have more to use when it’s dry – helping to support food production and boost the resilience of farm businesses across the country.”

The fund will help to identify opportunities to build on existing projects, including Felixstowe Hydrocycle, which is a multi-farm project currently repurposing more than 0.5 million tonnes of excess land drainage water per year.

The funding builds on existing support from the government to help farmers make efficient use of water resources, such as the Water Management Grant.

Philip Duffy, chief executive of the Environment Agency, added: “Farmers can make a huge positive impact in improving our use of water resources, making sure they have water to use in times of drought and safeguarding our food security.”

The closing date for applications is June 16.