Drought looming in England in 2023; fruit, vegetable crop in jeopardy
What England most pressingly needs is consistent and above-average rainfall throughout the fall and winter seasons to reduce the likelihood of drought next year - and this is not likely.
Concerns are growing over predictions that farmers will not be able to grow their crops next year if the drought persists until the next summer.
The National Drought Group has forecasted that the fruit and vegetable supply chain could collapse due to reservoirs not having received enough rainwater to water the crops.
"If reservoirs cannot be filled during winter 2022/23, which it is felt could be a possibility, this would have serious implications for businesses, the supply chains, and those employed within them," according to the Group.
"Confidence is needed by the sector to have access to water to enable cropping plans to be enacted. Where confidence is not available, cropping rotations are being reviewed and reductions in areas of irrigated crops/water-hungry crops are being undertaken."
The participants who were present at the meeting, which include Environment Agency, water companies, farmers, and other groups, warned it was unlikely there would be enough rainfall to refill reservoirs and enable normal river flows by 2023.
Yesterday, the government announced that the drought in England is expected to last for many months and introduced restrictions on water use.
After a difficult and scorching summer, rainfall levels during the month of September were not sufficient to dampen the soil and refill reservoirs.
What England most pressingly needs is consistent and above-average rainfall throughout the fall and winter seasons to reduce the likelihood of drought next year.
Since that is unlikely, farmers and delegates in the agricultural industry are anticipating disastrous yields ahead of the upcoming year.
The National Trust, a charity and membership organization for heritage conservation in England, which also happened to be at the meeting, warned that some sites were also prone to drought.
It said it will be unable to meet its net zero carbon emissions plans as the water available will not be sufficient to water the trees it wants to plant. It also said there would be fewer flowers on display next year.
Tom Bradshaw, the National Farmers’ Union’s Deputy President, said, "As the irrigation season is coming to a close and attention is turned to winter abstraction for storage reservoir fill, we have been working with the Environment Agency to further support the industry through these challenging times, with flexible abstraction measures being provided."
"However, more needs to be done to provide short-term certainty that water will be available for food production for the next growing season," he added.
Out of all reservoirs in the country, only one is assessed to be at normal water level for this year, while others are assessed as notably or exceptionally low, especially those of Devon and Cornwall.
The region had experienced some of the driest weather for 130 years, according to South West Water drought director Jo Ecroyd.
According to the South West Lakes Trust, whose water storage is estimated at 31.5% capacity, water levels at Colliford Lake in Cornwall are at about 20%, whereas water storage in Roadford Lake is currently at 38% capacity, though it can store up to 34,500 megaliters.
Residents in London and Oxfordshire could be placed under severe restrictions in the coming months as data revealed that Thames Water is considering non-essential use bans.
New- we are due to be in drought beyond spring 2023. And these leaked slides I’ve been given from the national drought group show millions in the Thames area could soon be banned from non essential water use pic.twitter.com/nhkVn6URVa— Helena Horton (@horton_official) October 14, 2022