Water was high on the agenda at this year’s Cereals event. As reported by Farmers Weekly, speaking at an Oxford Farming Conference-organised seminar at the event, Andrew Blenkiron, manager of the Euston Estate, Thetford, echoed the concerns of many over the water abstraction limits suggested by Defra and the Environmental Agency.
The water extraction limits on the volume of water that farmers can abstract next spring is apparently to prepare the UK for strict requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). According to Blenkiron, farming was always going to be first in line for cuts. The rise in demand resulting from the house-building programme in the drier parts of the country will be detrimental to agriculture. He also added that the situation is likely to get worse following a forecast from Cranfield University which suggests there will be a 40-160% increase in demand for irrigation water in the UK by 2050.
Although rainfall volumes are not set to change, rainfall patterns are, as climate projections suggest hotter, drier summers and milder, wetter winters. Rainfall will not change, but more will fall in the winter months.
A tactic that farmers might want to explore is rainwater harvesting. Channelling rainwater run-off from roof areas into dedicated rainwater tanks and water storage tanks could make a lot more water available to the country’s farmers and could present an alternative to intense water extraction from waterways.
If you’d like to learn more about harnessing rainwater, rainwater tanks and water storage tanks.