With the UK heatwave set to continue and water levels plummeting, resulting in crops drying out, it is no wonder the farmers are in a complete panic.
Not only will their crops not harvest well, but keeping their animals fed and watered is a top priority.
Water is vital for all agricultural and horticultural sectors, with variance in the quantity and quality required, as well as different patterns in seasonal requirements. For livestock producers, while the quantity of water needed may be less, the quality of the water supply must be good enough and readily available for stock – everyday.
In Derbyshire, the hot weather has left hundreds of homes and farms without water, forcing one farmer to dig out an old well to source water for his cows.
Greg Cotterell, of Bank Top farm in Fenny Bentley, said to the Derby Telegraph that the abandoned well he unearthed produces only a quarter of the water his cows need to survive and he was having to carry the water to their troughs with containers. “This is so serious now, this is literally a serious animal welfare issue,”
AHDB Resource Management Scientist, Nicola Dunn said: “The recent hot weather acts as a reminder of how quickly the situation can change in farming. We’d like farmers and growers to consider and plan for their long-term water supply needs.
“When water supply is plentiful, farmers and growers need the ability to store water – whether in a reservoir or a storage tank – so they can tap into alternative sources when water is low or can’t be abstracted. They also need access to technology and equipment, so water can get to crops and livestock efficiently, but it all comes at a cost and a lack of supply could be detrimental to business.”
Many livestock producers started this season with completely depleted forage reserves. While they may have taken reasonable first and second cuts of grass silage, they are now seeing little regrowth for either grazing or subsequent silage cuts.
“For every day without rain and with continued high temperatures, the grain harvest gets smaller and smaller,” says Andy Strzelecki, technical director with feed preservation specialists, Kelvin Cave Ltd. “If growers leave their crops in the ground until full maturity, they could be harvesting little more than budgie seed!”
With little chance of a large rainfall, the few drops that may occur will do nothing to solve this ongoing problem. Many people will be loving this wonderful hot summer. But not all – this is proving very tricky for farmers to deal with, from the start to finish of this extremely hot 2018 season.