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From the editor: Will some farmers soon be praying for a drop of rain?

What a difference a year makes when it comes to the weather.


Ben   Briggs

Ben   Briggs

Last spring Farmers Guardian was reporting about the deluge affecting many farms across the country at the end of a bitterly cold and wet start to the year, with the ‘Beast from the East’ providing an Arctic full stop to proceedings.

 

By June, however, we were reporting on how England was struggling with the longest dry spell in years, and by July 6 our front page yelled ‘Fire and Fury’ as tinderbox conditions on the moors led to wildfires spreading apace.

 

While we hope such scenes will not be repeated this year, we stand at a strange point at which many will be enjoying the nice weather but also, quietly, praying for a bit of rain to coincide with the rise in temperatures and really help arable and grasslands kick-on.

 

For those in south east England, there will need to be more than hopes and prayers. With restrictions already in place for water abstraction in some areas, serious thinking will be taking place about what the next steps are for many cereal growers in the region.


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Last year offered up a strange panacea after what had been an incredibly long and cold winter at the back end of 2017 and in to the start of 2018. And while there were fears of forage shortages, the worst seemed to be avoided for most farmers who were able to scrabble through.

 

But for many in southern England, either in the east or west, the dry spells seem to be getting longer and the challenge of farming as they always have done is becoming harder.

 

Whether climate change should be mentioned is a moot point, but many farmers who speak to us here at FG seem to think weather patterns are changing.

 

For this Easter weekend we can enjoy the sun, but agricultural eyes will no doubt be focusing even more keenly on forecasts and rain gauges in the coming months.

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