With some areas of the UK seeing record levels of rainfall, causing widespread flooding, landslides and significant travel disruptions, parts of the UK are now in recovery mode in an attempt to salvage homes and businesses.
Farmland is also incredibly vulnerable during extreme weather conditions, even to the point where there is expected to be an increase in food costs in the new year due to ruined potato and brassica crops.
In this blog, we’re going to be exploring how to reduce the risk of flood damage on farmlands.
Preparing Your Farm for Floods
There are many variables when working on the land that aren’t within your control, and extreme weather conditions are one such variable.
However, there are plenty of small tasks that you can undertake to help prepare your land and reduce the risk of damage, such as:
- Creating runoff pools and sediment traps to reduce the chance of floods
- Avoiding directing any runoff water towards roads and water sources such as brooks and streams
- Release any built-up roof water into soakaways, to slow down the flow of the water and help with deep drainage
- Decompact soil on fields to a textured layer after the harvest is complete to allow more moisture to soak into the soil instead of pooling on the surface
- Move all your livestock and equipment away from muddy, high-risk fields to prevent water damaging equipment or injuring livestock
- Use low-ground tyres to reduce soil compaction
Preparing a Flood Plan
As a farm and landowner, it’s crucial to create a clear picture of how you and your staff will deal with the threat of a flood. The ideal way to do this is by creating a farm flood plan. This plan highlights all of the important information and actions you and your staff will need to act upon if faced with the impending threat of a flood.
Once you’ve finalised your plan, you’ll need to distribute this to everyone who works on the land to ensure they’re familiar with your procedures.
Generally speaking, your flood plan should answer the following questions:
- Where is the safest place to move livestock to keep them away from flooding?
- What equipment can be moved with ease to prevent loss or damage?
- Are there any chemicals that, if collected by floodwater, could potentially contaminate floodwater and therefore any nearby freshwater sources?
- How will staff be informed of a flood threat and what early-warning preparations need to be carried out in priority order?
- What is the contingency plan with suppliers to ensure the supply can continue with minimal loss of earnings?
- What materials will be stockpiled that could be used to lessen flood damage – sandbags, pallets and plywood, etc.?
Preparing Your Home for Floods
As is almost always the case for farm owners, their farm is not only their livelihood but their home too. If your farm sits within an area prone to flooding, you will also need to consider how you will protect your home.
If you live on the farmland, you will need to ensure that your flood plan includes steps to safeguard your home.
This should include:
- Creating an emergency flood kit, which should consist of copies of insurance documents, a wind-up torch, spare clothing, food and bottled water, phone chargers and any required medication.
- Keeping your mobile phone charged if you need to call emergency services or loved ones
- Being prepared to turn off utilities such as gas, electricity and water, since flash floods are capable of building up very quickly
- Plugging in sinks and weighing them down with heavy objects, filling up water inlets and disconnecting any electrical equipment that uses water (to avoid a surge) like washing machines will help to prevent excess flood water getting into the house.
The most important thing to remember is not to enter floodwater unless you’re told to do so by emergency services, as it could contain contaminants and hidden dangers.
How Can Smart Technology Help Farms?
At METOS, our smart weather stations can collect real-time metrics such as air moisture, temperature changes and wind speed to assess the climate around your farm. This data can be invaluable for farmers and landowners since it offers them tangible details on which they can base their decisions.
Whether you need to know about flood warnings, overnight frost temperatures, moisture levels within the soil or extreme dry spells to ensure the land is in the right condition to work on; then our iMETOS weather station will help you make your next move.
The farming industry is one that relies heavily on the weather; the UK especially is prone to erratic weather patterns, which means that an unexpected flood or cold snap, could severely impact a farms revenue stream