Farmers irrigate at night to save water

Fenland farmers and growers are irrigating crops only at night to save water as the lack of rain continues to affect crops.

The voluntary measure by growers in region aims to significantly reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.

Much of England has received just 20% of its average expected rainfall for May. And despite some rain on Thursday (27 May), falling river levels are continuing prompting concern that restrictions may be imposed on abstraction licences.

Environment Agency officials praised farmers and growers for using water wisely.

The organisation said it was working closely with farmers and other abstractors to find ways to make water resources go further.

The main risk was to licence holders reliant on abstracting water from rivers, it warned.

The impact was likely to increase during June and July when demands for water would be at their highest and river flows at their lowest, the agency said.

Some water abstraction licence holders across England and Wales have already had to stop abstracting due to conditions on their licence linked to river flows.

Although parts of East Anglia received more than 10mm of rain on Thursday (26 May), crops continue to require much more.

“We are working with farmers and others to balance the water needs of people, businesses and the environment,” said Trevor Bishop, the agency’s head of water resources.

“It’s important that we all use precious water wisely at all times of the year, especially during dry periods.”

The Environment Agency would continue to monitor and respond to the situation as the below-average rainfall and dry conditions continue, said Mr Bishop.

The organisation would also publish a report next month to assess the likely impact of prolonged dry weather, including the plans in place to manage drought.


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