Farmers need reliable source of water to cope with dry years, as new report published
The National Farmers' Union said the report suggested a collaboration was crucial to ensuring the careful management of water resources when farmers and growers produce food in times of drought.
The NFU comments come following today’s launch of the university’s Sink or Swim report, the result of work between nine companies across six sectors - water companies; farmers; financial institutions; retailers; real estate service providers; and engineering consultancies. The research points to a need for co-operation between businesses, water companies and Government.
Sink or Swim, from the Cambridge-hosted Natural Capital Leaders Platform, is the result of a collaboration between nine companies across six sectors that examined new strategies to manage this economically strategic resource, which underpins many business activities.
Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Anglian Water, who spoke at the Royal Society launch said: “Ensuring that water is carefully stewarded and available in sufficient quantity and quality is a vital component of business success. Water scarcity can damage productivity, disrupt supply chains, put water users in competition with each other, and ultimately harm corporate trust and reputation. These risks impact sectors in many different ways, but collaboration and innovation are absolutely key to achieving resilience and to protecting the economy.”
NFU water resources adviser Paul Hammett said water was increasingly a crucial issue for agriculture – and that there had to be processes in place to allow farmers and growers to build more effective on-farm reservoirs so they could cope during summer droughts.
“Farmers and growers of high value fruit and vegetables need a reliable source of water to produce that food. Building water storage on the farm has long been considered an effective way of protecting the business against potential summer shortfalls in water supply – indeed, this report found that in the Wissey catchment pilot study, about half of irrigating farmers already have their own reservoirs,” he said.
“However most farm reservoirs are designed to cope with one irrigation season, yet the experience of 2010-12 suggests that in future we may need to build resilience to cope with two or even three consecutive dry years. In that scenario, more creative solutions are needed – and collaboration between farmers and others, such as water companies, is what this study begins to look at.”
Chris Brown, Sustainable Business Director at Asda, said: “Inconsistent or unreliable supply of produce – caused by water scarcity or flooding - has a direct impact on supply chains. Retailers cannot act alone to manage necessary water supplies: a collaborative approach is needed, which is why we are pleased to be part of this initiative.”
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