Farmers facing driest March in years

Thursday 31st Mar 2011 by theWeatherclub

While the increasing spring sunshine has been a welcome boon for many after what has been at times a particularly harsh winter, it has brought with it a touch of concern for some. The country's farmers love a sunny afternoon as much as the rest of us, but they do need some showers along with their sunshine. However March 2011 is set to be one of the driest on record for England and Wales.

Between the 1st and 22nd March, 13mm of rain fell in England and Wales, only about 18% of the usual monthly average, while across the whole of the UK, a third of the usual amount of rain was recorded in the first half of the month. According to the Met Office, the figures - while still provisional - suggest that March 2011 could prove to be one of the driest since records began. The last time so little rain fell was in 2003, when just 54mm was recorded in the UK over the whole month, meaning that with only nine days left in the month, this year has seen less than 25% of the 2003 levels.

The driest-ever March was in 1927 when 17mm of rain fell. Helen Chivers, Met Office spokeswoman, said unsettled weather from the middle of next week meant the rainfall figures would go up. "But it would have to be exceptionally wet to catch up with the average," she said. "It certainly looks like it could be one of the driest Marches on record if we don't see an appreciable amount of rain next week."

The figures come in the same week as an EU report saying the UK is one of several countries including France, Portugal and Spain, reporting lower than average rainfall. The Czech Republic, Cyprus and Malta faced continuous water shortages in 2009 and 2010.

It all adds up to a growing need to take another look at just how efficient we are being with our water, both domestically and agriculturally. The EU Commission is expected to produce a blueprint for safeguarding the region's water supplies by the end of 2012, which will focus on ways to improve the efficiency of the continent's water usage.