Spring drought could cause food shortages, farmers warn
Farmers in the Netherlands are very concerned about the dry weather these past weeks. They fear failed harvests and food shortages, ZLTO, the association for 12,000 farmers and horticulturists in Zeeland, Noord-Brabant, and Zuid-Gelderland, said to AD.
The Netherlands got a lot of rain in February, but March was extremely dry, and there was no significant rainfall in April. The national average precipitation deficit is already 60 millimeters, according to the latest KNMI Drought Monitor. That puts 2022 in the dop five direst years since the meteorological institute started keeping track of this measurement in 1906.
Little to no rain is forecast for the coming weeks. The KNMI expects the average precipitation deficit to rise to 90 millimeters in the coming period.
Farmers are worried about their harvests, ZLTO board member Janus Scheepers told AD. "A lot has already been sown, and those seeds remain dry in the ground, so there may not be enough affordable and safe food," he said.
The low water levels caused by the drought could cause damage to banks and quays. Water boards in parts of Noord-Brabant already implemented an irrigation ban on Tuesday to prevent water levels from dipping too low, Omroep Brabant reports.
The Brabantse Delta water board banned grassland irrigation in the catchment area of the Dongevallei near Tilburg. Irrigation is completely banned in four river basins near Etten-Leur and Bergen op Zoom. Water board AA en Maas temporarily prohibited the use of groundwater for irrigating grassland in a small area. Other water boards in the province are monitoring the situation closely.
"It is dry and still early in the year," Kees de Jong of Brabantse Delta water board said to Omroep Brabant. "We are introducing these extraction bans to prevent desiccation. In the winter, together with farmers and nature reserve managers, we retained the water well and for a long time. But now nature is overtaking us."