With summer looming after an unusually dry winter, some farmers are being forced to irrigate crops as the dry spell continues, with concerns that up 50% of crop yields maybe lost if the drought is prolonged.
What is Drought?In the most general sense, drought originates from a deficiency of rain over an extended period of time--usually a season or more--resulting in a water shortage for some activity, group, or environmental sector. Its impacts result from the interplay between the natural event (less rain than expected) and the demand people place on water supply, and human activities can exacerbate the impacts of drought.
How is UK Affected?
The average rainfall in England is down to 7.6mm this April, compared with 66.8mm last April, with farmers across the country enduring the driest April to March period since 1995. Scotland has had 40.2mm of rain this April, compared with 103.9mm last year, and Wales saw 13.6mm this month, compared with 89.7mm in 2016.
Water supplier Affinity, which covers large areas of the south-east of England, says it is "monitoring the situation closely with plans in place".
"January to March saw rainfall 50 to 70 per cent below average in our region" the company said.
Farmers Weather forecaster Dr Simon Keeling said conditions were expected to stay mostly dry into next week. “There will be a strengthening easterly wind developing and this will further lead to soil moisture deficits as the ground dries out even further,” he said.
“Current thoughts are that more mixed weather may hang around for several days, although we do expect warmer and drier weather to return again at the end of the month and into early June.”
What happens to crop growth?The most immediate consequence of drought is a fall in crop production, due to inadequate and poorly distributed rainfall. Farmers are faced with harvests that are too small to both feed their families and fulfill their other commitments. The overall effect of a fall in crop production is to reduce the draft capacity of the farming sector, leading to lower crop output in the subsequent farming season.
What’s next?In order for farmers to be well equipped to deal with unpredictable droughts; they can start to use the technology available to them and to begin to research alternative methods of growing. Traditionally; farmers would usually rely on livestock farming when droughts hit, however there are many alternative methods of farming which do not rely on climate conditions or weather for a successful harvest.
AeroponicsAeroponic farming can be utilised 365 days a year in any climate – the perfect answer to drought. This method can be used indoors and at any location meaning the outside climate will not affect the yield. For more information about aeroponic farming, contact us today.