Taking steps to reduce the risk of flooding
Published January 14th, 2020
The extreme flooding seen this autumn and winter has brought the implications of climate home for farmers and landowners and serious action is going to be required to secure the long term sustainability of our farmland in the decades to come.
The cost of the recent extreme weather is likely to be enormous with farmers facing fields left unharvested, poorly established and failed crops and shortage of fodder in their barns.
So what can be done to reduce the risk and implications of flooding in the future? Do we need to change our farming systems to safeguard our soils, grow different crops or look at new ways of protecting our land from overflowing rivers and streams?
“Farmers and land owners need to consider how they can boost their resilience to flooding as unfortunately the incidence of heavy flooding is likely to grow in the future,” said Charlotte Rogerson, chartered surveyor at Berrys.
“We can’t stop the heavens opening but there are things we can do to slow the speed of run-off and to limit soil loss, such as reducing the area of bare soils which are most vulnerable to flooding. This will have implications for potato and maize ground.
“Land could be managed along the contour rather than across it and buffer strips alongside water courses may also help absorb some of the flood risk.
“Larger scale tree planting in upland areas could also help protect lowland areas and there may be a case for setting up agreements for some land to be managed to hold floodwater,” she said.
All these ideas will come at a cost and it is possible that the upcoming Agriculture Bill will have provision for such climate change measures to be properly paid for as a public benefit.
Farmers affected by flooding this season can still claim their 2020 Basic Payment if the flooding is temporary and the land is still available for agricultural activity.
“The scheme rules say that you should return the land to agricultural use as soon as practically possible and continue to meet the scheme rules or requirements of environmental scheme agreement options on the affected land parcels,” said Charlotte.
“Where flooding means that rules for Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship are broken it is possible to request a ‘Minor and temporary adjustment’.
“If the impact is more permanent, perhaps if a parcel of land is washed away or covered in debris it may be possible to request ‘force majeure’.”
For further advice contact Charlotte Rogerson at the Shrewsbury office of Berrys on 01743 290642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org