It’s Raining it’s Pouring: The Heavy Rain and Farming

June 21, 2024

It’s Raining it’s Pouring: The Heavy Rain and Farming

Rain is vital to farmers but when there’s too much or too little it can impact farming and food production. Our farmers are familiar with the challenges that the British weather can bring – they know it’s a fickle mistress. But for the past 18 months, farmers have faced record-breaking rainfall. This means the food produced in Britain has fallen drastically and some farmers face ruin. We have not seen an impact on food production like this since the Second World War.

 

According to Met Office data, 1,695.9mm of rain fell from October 2022 to March 2024. This is the highest amount recorded over an 18-month period in England.  

 

Generally, farmers plant crops in the Autumn but from mid-October 2023 there has been non-stop rain. There were none of the usual pockets of dry weather ideal for getting seeds in the ground. Planting earlier than this is precarious as it leaves some crops open to deadly weed infestation. Some fields were (and still are) simply submerged underwater; ultimately there are thousands of hectares of unplanted food.

 

Farmers who did manage to plant have found that seeds and crops have rotted in water-logged fields. Crops that have survived may find as the weather turns warmer, the adaptions the crop made to cope with the water leave it vulnerable in hot, dry weather e.g. roots nearer the surface. Some farmers took a gamble and opted to wait for Spring planting, in the hope it might be dryer – but the rain continued.

 

Not to mention that the heavy rain can cause environmentally catastrophic fertile soil erosion. Even farmers who have taken precautions in a bid to reduce soil erosion by planting hedges, cover crops and buffer strips have found the relentless wet has pushed these measures to the limits.

 

The picture feels bleak for farming and the environment but how does it look for us, the average Joe? In a nutshell, we’ll be paying more for less. Combine this of course with the cost of living crisis and Brexit import charges and we, the average Joe, will be watching the pennies carefully for the foreseeable future.