Two of the foremost irrigation specialists in the United Kingdom, have shown farmers from North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders how to take action against future water scarcity.
David Humphreys of Green Seed Potatoes with Jerry Knox from Cranfield University demonstrating 'best practice for
and Mark Robson of Turvelaws Farm
Hosted by Cheviot Futures and The Scottish Agricultural College, the aim of the specially created ' Irrigate Efficiently: Practical and technical training day' was to ensure that farmers were fully aware of how to manage their water effectively, how to cope with the effects of climate change and how to successfully negotiate contracts for future water supply. This event was the first of a two day programme - this October the farmers will visit East Anglia to see the UK’s latest innovative irrigation schemes in action.
The presenters, the best in their fields included, Melvyn Kay from the UK Irrigation Association (UKIA) who spoke on 'Understanding pipes and pumps and options for switching irrigation technology' and Jerry Knox from Cranfield University who covered 'best practice for Irrigation Management and options and costs for Irrigation Systems'.
The morning seminar was followed by a site visit to Turvelaws Farm.
Agriculture is a major contributor to Northumberland’s rural economy, but rising water demand, increased regulation and droughts, and the risks of climate change threaten the sustainability of this industry and the rural livelihoods it supports. Effective and efficient irrigation requires good scheduling, good equipment, and, above all, good management. And Turvelaws Farmer Mark Robson is more than fully aware of the need to manage his water supply:
"We live in this area and want to protect its environment while at the same time operating a sustainable business for the people who work within it. For example, we have joined the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme to enhance the wildlife habitats here at Turvelaws Farm.”
“The Environment Agency is taking over the management of the Till River basin from Natural England and it is fantastic that they have put on this specialist course in the North of England. It gives all farmers a better understanding of how they, the landowners and employers can work together to balance our natural resources for the good of everyone and to protect our futures. The speakers were the best in the industry and we have all learned a huge amount from the UK Irrigation Association."
The farmers also learnt about accommodating future climate change through the use of modern irrigation equipment and scheduling, and looked at how to integrate water resource management in to their current farming systems.
“The workshop showed the group how to plan ahead to guarantee they will be able to extract sufficient water to service their crops, “said Simon Hogg from SAC Consulting, a specialist advisor for rural businesses.
“Our changing climate will throw up a whole host of challenges and opportunities. Since last year's floods considerable work has been done into the areas of flood management. However the farmers also need to know how to manage their soil and water supplies during water shortages. I hope that as a result of today they came away with a greater knowledge of how to cope with these changes without it quite literally costing the earth.”
This training event was organised by Cheviot Futures, The Environment Agency, Scottish Agricultural College and the UK Irrigation Association and funded by the Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee, the Environment Agency and through LandSkills as part of the Rural Development Programme for England. Lunch for the day was provided by Greenvale AP.
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