As I write this there is another extreme heat warning.  The fields around me are brown and look lifeless.  However, there is an almost comedic side to this, as the four cows grazing in the next field decided that our small field looked far greener than their well grazed parched field.  What I thought was a strong fence proved to be anything but, as four half ton cows traversed the now dry ditch and barged through it.  It took three of us, two from the farm and me to persuade them back and to repair the fence.

Next day, early morning, they were back again.  And now, having got the taste of apples from our small orchard, as well as the sweet corn and beans etc, they had flattened another part of the fence in order to finish the lot off.  Again, the three of us got them back, and again repaired the fence.  Other local farms have also experienced cows escaping as the grass really did look greener on the other side of the fence.

I was talking to one Hooe farmer who explained that the grain harvest in his store was overheating, and so he had to put blowers in it to cool the crop down, otherwise, he said, it might start to smoulder.  The latter is not surprising as at one UK farm, Tim Casey’s farm in Lincolnshire, temperatures reached 40.3 degrees.  Tim specialises in growing leeks, and leeks stop growing above 25 degrees.  So he, like many other farmers, have the problems of high temperatures, no rain, depleted on site water storage, combined with crops he cannot harvest.

The knock-on effect from the weather is that some farmers have fields that have been harvested and are cleared, but due to the rock-hard ground, it is impossible to drill the seed or plough the fields.  But even if it were possible, it would be pointless planting because there is not enough moisture in the soil to get the seed started.

NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw said the union was monitoring the impact the ongoing dry weather could have on food production.  He said “The impacts of this prolonged spell of dry weather are hugely challenging for many farms across the country and causing concern for all farming sectors.  It highlights the urgent need for government and its agencies to better plan for and manage the nation’s water resources.  This will help build resilience into the farming sector and provide investment opportunities for irrigation equipment and to build more on-farm reservoirs.”   One can but hope that the government will listen to the farmers concerns.

(Rev Peter)