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WORD ON THE GROUND: The weather rules again

After a very easy and early spring and low water levels in our winter-fill reservoirs we decided to invest in some new irrigation technology for our potato crop, trickle irrigation.

This involves laying a small pipe under the soil in each of the ridges - they are connected up to mains at the end and into the pump.

An owl at Worth Farms (13215880)
An owl at Worth Farms (13215880)

Each of the fields is then spit into four sections, each then has the ability to apply 8mm of water in a 24 hour period. This water is then going directly into the ridge where the potato is, ensuring maximum utilisation of the water and the best yield and quality benefits there are.

This was working fantastically well and the benefits were clear to see until the beginning of June, when the heavens opened and we received 160mm in three days. This unprecedented amount of rain then turned our attentions to pumping water off fields wherever we could, even back into the reservoirs that we were drawing water out of a week earlier.

Owlets at Worth Farms (13215878)
Owlets at Worth Farms (13215878)

Three weeks later and the damage is now being seen. Potatoes in certain areas that were flooded are rotting in the field, vining peas that were at the crucial flowering stage are starting to wilt and die off before pods are filled.

It has also had a big effect on the wildlife on the farms - it was at the crucial time where owl, partridge and many other birds had laid eggs and these were hatched or starting to hatch out. These young couldn’t stand the wet weather and the adult birds were unable to hunt to be able to feed their young.

We will be tagging these young chicks in the next week so will have a better ideas on the effect then.


NFU update on the flooding, by Phil Ingleby

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