North-south weather divide brings challenges

A north-south weather divide has brought contrasting challenges to farms across the UK.

The Environment Agency said Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and parts of Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and west Norfolk were still in drought because the water resources situation, especially groundwater, had not improved.

This latest soil-moisture graphic, released by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, shows the extent of the dry conditions that farmers have been battling this summer.

According to Met Office figures, East Anglia had the least amount of rainfall in September, with just 25.7mm, or 46% of its monthly average.

The Midlands had 37.9mm of rain, 55% of its monthly average. But north Scotland was the wettest region with 200.4mm of rainfall, or 131% of its monthly average.

The Met Office said the north-south weather divide would continue well into October.

Spokesman Dan Williams said: “The worst of the weather will continue to be in the north and the best in the South East.”

In the Midlands, Nottinghamshire grower Peter Gadd said farmers were facing tough choices over whether to continue or delay sowing wheats into dry seed-beds.

He started sowing his winter wheat last Monday (26 September) and was drilled up by the weekend.

“Most of it has gone into dust or dry cobbles, or a mixture of both,” he said. “It has been a leap of faith completing drilling by now, but it was not growing in the bag.”

Derbyshire NFU chairman Angela Sargent, and her husband Barry, who run a 100ha farm near Etwall, have not been able to get their second cut of silage after dry weather checked summer growth.

By contrast, Scottish growers were this week struggling to sow crops after heavy rain fell across many regions.

Kelso grower and Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer Focus writer Neil Thomson said rain had delayed his wheat drilling.

“The rain on Sunday stopped us getting on, but we are back on today (Tuesday),” he said. “But we’re not progressing as fast as we might like.”

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