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UK Fields Drown as Farmers Face Record Rainfall

Persistent rainfall over the past 18 months has inundated UK farms, severely impacting crop yields .


Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

According to the Met Office, a record-breaking 1,695.9mm of rain fell from October 2022 to March 2024, exceeding all previously documented 18-month periods in England.


Farmers across the country express concerns, including Oxfordshire farmer Tom Allen-Stevens, who describes the situation: "Unrelenting rain has prevented crop planting on the majority of my arable land. We anticipate significantly reduced harvests this year. Typically dry periods provide crucial windows for planting, but this is simply unprecedented."


"Everyone is saying this is extraordinary," he continues. "There have been bad years but this year has been particularly bad.


"You do wonder whether it is climate change throwing a curveball here because we are moving to more and more extremes. When it came to planting crops last autumn, it was fine but harvest 2022 was incredibly dry, meaning they dried up too quickly and the yields weren’t great at all."


Leeds vegetable grower Rhian Williams echoes this sentiment: “Fields show no signs of drying, dramatically limiting our output," he said. "This jeopardises our customers' subscriptions and makes us worry about detrimental climate change patterns affecting our food system."


The challenges extend to livestock management, as Scottish mixed farmer Scott Maher explains: "Waterlogged fields keep our livestock indoors, complicating operations. We are scrambling to condense essential work into short periods of dry weather."


Gloucestershire Shepherd Elizabeth Johnson adds, "After last year's drought, flooding creates further challenges. This weather volatility disrupts grazing and raises concerns of future drought and disease risks."


The agricultural sector expects reduced domestic food production stemming from adverse weather. These conditions, alongside rising input costs, highlight the pressures and uncertainties UK farmers confront in ensuring the nation's food supply.


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