How has the drought affected UK farmers?

How has the extended period of drought in the UK impacted the economic situation of farmers?
30 August 2022

Interview with 

Adrian Temple


Field of wheat crops


The summer of 2022 has been one of a countrywide drought; July was the driest in over 20 years, and now 10 of the Environment Agency’s 14 regional divisions are in drought, and only Cumbria and Lancashire are considered at ‘normal water resource status’. Everyone’s affected; lawns and playing fields are brown; trees are dead; hosepipes are banned, and for some it’s been economically painful too…

Adrian- I'm Adrian Temple and we've been farming for three generations in the east of England and we have very dry soil at the moment. We should be seeing beans at this time of the year, three foot high, ready for harvest. We've now got plants at half that size and very few pods. The whole of the field looks quite sparse and I've heard neighbours say that even with reasonably looking crops, they haven't yielded very well this year.

Chris- If I stepped into this field and I didn't know what should be here, I would assume you just had left this field fallow. There's bare soil everywhere with huge cracks and what plants there are here look very scrubby and half dead. and there are very few pods on them.

Adrian- No, that's absolutely correct. Yeah. And we're just gonna take what we can and that will be it really for the year. The only upside is that beans being leguminous have put some nitrogen back in the soil which, at the extortionate price it is at the moment, is probably not a bad thing. But that wasn't the aim, the aim was to have a decent crop. So yeah, it's been a struggle this year.

Chris - Is it literally hanging in the balance whether this is even worth harvesting?

Adrian - Yeah. It's worth putting the combine over it, but only really to get what we can and clear it for next year

Chris - Break even?

Adrian - If we're lucky, yeah. It's gonna be very marginal because of the cost of seed and cultivation. And I very much doubt if we get our money back on that. So yeah.

Chris - Seen it like this before?

Adrian - No, not quite as bad as this.

Chris - And I suppose there's a double whammy because that ground is like concrete and trying to pull any kind of implement through that immediately. Your costs are going to burn a lot more fuel and you're going to burn your tires out faster.

Adrian - Absolutely. And also you're wearing parts, this soil as hard as it is. Yeah. As you say, it's gonna be more expensive.


Add a comment