Drought predictions spark crop failure fear

FARMERS in the Horncastle area are faced with a high fisk of their crops failing as forecasts by the Environment Agency predict a high risk of drought for 2012.

There are fears the ground will be too dry to grow crops following an exceptionally dry spring and summer.

Lincolnshire is still officially in drought and the Environment Agency has had restrictions in place, preventing farmers taking water from rivers, due to the existing low levels.

Steve Ireland, of Poolham Farm, Horncastle, said many farmers rely on river water to fill their winter storage reservoirs - used to irrigate crops.

He said: “Usually your license would begin around January and February, allowing you fill your reservoirs from the rivers.

“But because there are not sufficient levels in the rivers, farmers will not be able to do this.”

Mr Ireland said the annual rainfall has been around 16 and a half inches.

This is approximately 10 inches less than normal.

He explained: “The rain we are getting at the moment means that there are puddles everywhere, but the land isn’t at capacity.

“We would need two to three months of rain to get it back to the levels needed.

“Below ground it is bone dry and crops rely on that deep water to take them through the summer months.

“This is a massive area for crops such as leeks and parsnips.

“The worst scenario would be if the drought continued into next year.

“If the first six months are below average rainfall then it will be an extremely serious situation.”

If there is a dry winter and a high demand for water during the spring, Anglian Water might have to introduce customer restrictions.