A survey aimed at horticultural growers is beginning to build a picture of the UK’s water abstraction use.
The survey, launched by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) Horticulture and Potatoes divisions earlier this year, aims to build an evidence base of grower experience, needs and data in order to help inform legislative changes coming into play over the next few years.
The British system for water licensing was developed for another age, so the legislation requires updating. Growers who rely on water need to plan to ensure they will still have enough for their businesses in a drought, including scope for expansion. As part of this foresight the AHDB-funded survey aims to identify resilience and obstacles to resilience.
So far more than 340 responses have been received from across the industry. Whilst it is too soon to analyse all of the answers, a snapshot of two topics gives an indication of the type of results appearing.
More trickle irrigation users required
About a third of respondents use trickle/drip irrigation, but only 40 of these use more than 20m3 per day and under the new legislation these users will lose their exemption from licensing. More responses from growers using this method of irrigation are welcome, to give a clearer idea of their obstacles, if any, in gaining secure water supplies.
Water storage challenges
It is logical to face potential drought with large, full reservoirs. 56% of respondents indicated that they have some water storage capacity. Those growers who have installed or plan to install reservoirs or other storage were asked about obstacles they face. The chart below shows the results, where higher scores indicate greater importance. It appears there are several barriers to installation, which is a challenge to the sustainability of the industry in a drought.
It’s not too late for your business to contribute
There is still time to inform the discussion and detail of Defra’s abstraction reforms. The results of this survey will be important because there is currently an absence of national data on the subject. The impact of the survey will depend on inclusion of a large number of businesses, water volumes, sectors and catchments with varying water availability.
To take the survey a grower or licence holder needs to gather some information together first, such as licences, and then the survey takes only 20 minutes. The survey can be found here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VZ9R7VG