Netherlands again too dry; farmers, waterboards concerned

After the exceptionally dry year last year, the Netherlands will continue on the same foot in the coming weeks with little to no rain expected. As the groundwater level has still not recovered to standard everywhere in the Netherlands, this may mean that farmers in some areas will have to kick off the growing season with an irrigation ban. Farmers and waterboards are very concerned, AD reports.

According to the Union of Waterboards, the dykes have recovered well and the the water supply is up to standard again in the low-lying parts of the Netherlands. But the water shortage has not yet been fixed in all places. "You see in the southwestern clay areas - Zeeland, West-Brabant and Zuid-Holland - that the ground is salinated by the low groundwater level, that is not easily solved and supplemented. And also in the higher sandy areas in te southeast, the Sahara of the Netherlands last summer, the question is how we can get enough water", Esther de Snoo, spokesperson for agricultural organization LTO said to AD. "The too low groundwater level does not present problems right now, but it is possible if there is a dry spring."

There is not much chance that the precipitation deficits will be made up in the coming weeks, according to Weerplaza meteorologist Raymond Klaassen. "If I look at the expectation for the next two weeks, I do not see any significant rainfall", he said to the newspaper. "If I take the experimental expectation, which gives an image until mid-March, I see that it is too dry and too mild for the time of year." It looks like the dry season is picking up again where it left off at the end of November, he said.

Dirk-Siert Schoonman, daily director of waterboard Vallei en Veluwe, noticed it becoming dryer again instead of wetter over the past weekend. No rain plus warm sunshine means evaporation. "If it gets drier the coming weeks, the groundwater level can not be supplemented. Then I'm worried about the upcoming growing season." Planting season starts on April 1st.

The dry weeks ahead especially pose a challenge for parts of Noord-Brabant, Twente and the Achterhoek - the so-called high sandy soils. In those places the groundwater levels are still well below normal. Some waterboards still have the exceptional measures from last summer in place. In some areas farmers are still not allowed to irrigate their fields with surface water or groundwater. In Limburg farmers were even asked to postpone the processing of their land, in the hope that the groundwater level will recover further, according to the newspaper. 

"Farmers are professionals who can deal with many different weather conditions, but that the drought of last year has not yet recovered can cause problems. A sufficiently moist soil is important for seeds and young plants to be able to germinate and grow", De Snoo from LTO said. 


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