Dry Weather Makes Adoption of Water-savvy Farming Necessary in the UK
Below average rainfall conditions in the UK are prompting farmers and growers to adopt water-savvy techniques earlier in the year in order to be prepared in case of agricultural drought, a recent news release from AHDB has revealed.
The Environmental Agency (EA) has reportedly declared irrigation prospects “moderate to poor” in several regions across East of England in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex. Many other areas are classified as “moderate”, with much of the UK in a weaker position than 2018.
“With time to prepare, we would encourage farmers and growers to develop contingency plans and consider options, which could make the difference between a profit or loss situation this summer,” said AHDB Water Resource Scientist, Nicola Dunn. “Throughout winter and spring, the EA has issued certain areas with “hands off flow,” noticed, meaning farmers and growers must stop abstracting water to top up storage facilities. This means later in the year, savvy techniques will be needed to help businesses get more from the water they have in the worst affected areas. Exploring investment into techniques like precision irrigation could reduce the volume of water needed throughout the season. And, in the longer term if you are planting crops, there may be more resilient verities you could choose where the market dictates, which manage better in dry conditions,” Dunn went on.
Lincolnshire farmer and Chairman of Nene Potatoes, David Hoyles, revealed for AHDB that “last year we prioritized our irrigation focusing on our most profitable crops first, as a result, our potatoes and beetroot yields turned out well. However, our sugar beet crop, which was not irrigated, delivered a yield almost 25% less than we achieved in 2017. He continued by saying that “this year is looking like a bigger challenge than last because our reservoir is currently at 30%. We’re already irrigating, but to help us manage and target the water use we’ve invested in more soil moisture probes, we’re also getting out with a spade to check ground conditions. Learning from last year was that we need better crop nutrition, so we’ve also been looking at different ways to do that, with bio-stimulant trials underway we’re following the ADAS guidance and taking samples from our crops as we go.”