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CAFRE urges farmers to fight extreme weather through drainage


After record breaking weather conditions, Phelim Connolly, Agri-Environment Adviser at CAFRE, has urged farmers to future proof their land by installing and improving field drainage systems.

Fields across Northern Ireland were affected by waterlogging following the country’s driest spring since 1900 followed by the wettest summer in 12 years. The problem has been noted to be worsening in recent years, which DAERA advisors attribute to climate change, noting an increased probability of similar extreme weather events in years to come.

In a recent statement, DAERA proclaimed soil as “every farm’s greatest asset”, detailing the need to protect this precious resource. Maintaining field drainage systems was posed as an effective solution, as they explained it ensures topsoil is waterlogged for less time, ensuring faster recovery times and a quicker return to normal grazing patterns.

Farmers should carefully consider installing or carrying out maintenance on a field drainage system however, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). They advise changes could potentially worsen water pollution in the surrounding area and therefore recommended it was vital to carry out an environmental assessment (also known as a drainage assessment or flood risk assessment) before doing so.

AHDB also pointed out that despite the initial expense, effective drainage systems can have “economic, practical and environmental benefits”, including improved crop yield and quality, better access to land, an extended grazing season, reduced risks to livestock health and improved speed of work and fuel use.

OSM Environmental Consulting have provided several drainage assessments to the agricultural sector over the years, successfully finding effective solutions to drainage problems in fields. Our team of expert environmental consultants are able to recommend systems for field and land drainage – get in touch for a consultation.

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