Farmers Advised To Find Alternative Water Sources For Irrigation

As you may or may not be aware, the pressure on the water supply in the UK is increasing, in large part because of our expanding population. Climate change is also putting serious long-term pressure on water availability in this country and it’s predicted that this will intensify the hydrological cycle around the world, which will result in more floods and drought.


While this country is generally viewed as being very wet and damp, the availability of our water varies all over the country – and this issue is being exacerbated by agricultural irrigation, which has the potential to have a huge impact on our water resources.


As such, farmers should perhaps start to consider alternative sources for irrigating crops, agricultural partner at Arnolds Keys-Irelands Agricultural Tom Corfield explained.


Writing for the Eastern Daily Press, Mr Corfield explained that East Anglia – which sees less rainfall than Sudan! – saw just 19 per cent of long-term average rainfall during the month of April, which has meant that those in the industry with abstraction licences have already begun irrigating to help to prevent early losses.


Farmers are now being encouraged to factor in water shortages to their plans, checking that their current licences are fit for purpose. Because this is an ongoing concern, carrying out reviews and audits of water availability would be wise.


Talking to rainwater harvesting consultants could prove useful for those in the farming industry to find out how these systems could be beneficial. A system will be installed on your premises in order to increase cost efficiencies, reduce water bills and lower the impact on the environment.


Above ground and underground storage tanks could also prove of use to farmers concerned about the lack of available water over the next few months.


“Longer-term measures require a focus on the organic content of soil; greater organic content improves water retention in soil and can go a long way in reducing the risk of moisture deficit.


“On this note, straw for muck agreements could prove increasingly valuable in the coming years. Another consideration might be the use of products that can be incorporated into the topsoil to retain moisture,” Mr Corfield went on to say.


Back in April, the first water abstraction licence restrictions were issued by the Environment Agency, driven in part because between December and February the east and north-east of the country had 68 per cent of average rainfall.


North Yorkshire-based grower Andrew Wilson explained to the Farmers Guardian at the time that this is the earliest notice he has ever received – which is cause for concern for the upcoming season.


He went on to say that the restriction will be lifted if enough rainfall takes place and the river flow goes up, but it is often the case that the restrictions are implemented once again soon after.