Category Archives: flooding

Flood risk-Est Anglia-Essex-Kent

The container port at Felixstowe, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of Land in the SE have a very real flood risk BUT we are not doing what we could be doing.

What will happen in the UK eastern counties of Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Essex and Kent if we do not manage to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C?

Well, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) points out that even at 1.5, as the ice-caps melt, all low-lying land is at risk of flooding. Now, Lincolnshire produces 40% by value of UK farm output and 80 % of Lincolnshire is below sea level. By the way, we also already know that the protection offered to Landon by the Thames Barrage is on its limit and a high tide and the wind in the right direction might push over the limit.  Logically, improving sea defences in these areas might be seen as pretty important. Yet we know that in the last 12 months at least 30,000 tonnes of drilling “wastes” which could have been used to bulk up sea walls has gone elsewhere because of prevarications about UK interpretation of EU regulations.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 19 October ‘18

High Speed Winds and Flooding

There wlll be more high speed winds and more flooding as global warming progresses. provision to help water get away is prudent.

Over the next 2 or 3 entries on this blog, I shall be reporting, courtesy of the World Resource Institute, on high speed winds.

Scientists have known for years that global warming can exacerbate storms. But our understanding of the connection between hurricanes and climate change has evolved significantly in just the past year. Here’s what the cutting-edge science shows.

If storms hover above an area of land for long periods of time, they continue to dump rain, amplifying the risk of flooding. Very recent research has established a connection between warmer temperatures and the slowing of hurricane movement. A recent study in Nature found that from 1949 to 2016, the speed of tropical cyclones declined by 10 percent globally; North Atlantic tropical cyclones slowed down 20 percent over land areas during the same period. This slowing is part of the reason Hurricane Harvey caused so much damage when it stalled over Texas last year.

So, keep the field drains and ditches in order and let the rain get away – we can expect more of it.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 22 Sept 18

Despite the rain now, water may cost more in future

Britain has too much rain this spring. Nevertheless, farming may pay more for its water in future.

Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 Reason 6. Water Is Wasted

The water in our water main grid is “potable”, i.e. drinkable.  Yet half the water used in domestic households is used to flush toilets, enters the sewage system and is treated and dumped into rivers. It is true that some of that water may be extracted lower down the river and re-used, but this is an incredibly wasteful system.

The washing down of dairies and other livestock enterprises on farms is similarly wasteful.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Harvest water off shed roofs and concrete areas,
  2. Wash down sensibly, limiting use to what is necessary.
  3. Get everyone to remember that water is a valuable and increasingly expensive resource.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  7 April 18

Flood-prevention co-operatives

Contour farming in the China mountains. We could use the same techniques to protect lowland areas from flash flooding.

An income-earner for upland farms could be for protecting the lowlands from flash-flooding.  For flood prevention in the lowlands, an up-land flood-prevention co-op could deliver what the country needs, right now.  This can be done by a reverse-franchise set up which is less restrictive than a legal co-operative.

In a reverse franchise, a limited company is set up as the franchisor and it makes the rules.  Each farmer-franchisee gets one share (however big or small they are) in the franchisor and hence the name “reverse franchise”. The franchisor then forms a relationship with the Environment Agency to manage an upper catchment area including the mechanisms of (i) raising soil organic matter levels  using composted urban wastes from the lowlands, (ii) planting tree belts on contours to create flow barriers, and (iii) setting up sacrifice areas to hold water under extreme conditions to allow slow release.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 12 November 2017

Water in farming

 

Does the rainbow promise better weather, wetter weather, both or more extreme weather? What can we actually do about it?

 

On 24 August 2017m the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 

Reason 1. We’re Changing the Climate, Making Dry Areas Drier and Precipitation More Variable and Extreme.

Without mentioning any particular name, one who denies climate change must either be demented or have some ulterior motive. In most farming areas, water will in general get shorter in areas where it is already short and rain, when it does happen, at higher rates and with more wind. In general terms, most climatologists agree, this trend will continue.  However, there is some evidence that we may have already started to switch off, or otherwise change, the Gulf Stream. If that turns out to be the case, the western areas of the UK may get colder, not warmer, especially in winter.

The effects of these changes will affect everything in farming including field drainage, soil organic matter, the way we control weeds in crops.  We had better be ready to respond to these pressures.  One thing is for sure – it will not stay the same.

There is one rule to watch; mostly, where rain is already short in the eastern areas, we will get less and when it happens it will be in heavy weather.  Cereal crop lodging before harvest will be an increasing risk.  All areas may experience flash flooding.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Add organic matter and reduce cultivations to reduce oxidation of organic matter.
  2. Subsoil at intervals.
  3. Maintain ditches and field drainage.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

Farm land and contraception

 

We are loosing thousands of ha of farm land. every year. Setting up wetlands is very nice but “we have a problem, Huston”.

 

If I have remembered it rightly, the BBC in their Western News program on BBC1, 27 June 17, reported that the Environment Agency had, with assistance, spent £20 million deliberately flooded this area of Steart Marshes which had previously been farm land. The Wildlife and Wetlands Trust claim, “Hundreds of hectares of saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands buffer homes and businesses from rising sea levels ….”

Put on one side for a moment that a few generations of farmers had spent their lives winning the area from the sea and produced food. Also put aside the fact that most of the global population does not have enough to eat. Now look at the following report.

 

A satellite survey by a research team at the University of Leicester (UofL) found that between 2006 and 2012, 22,000 hectares (54,ooo acres) of green space was converted to “artificial surfaces” – mostly housing. More than 7,000 hectares of forest was felled, 14,000 hectares of farmland concreted ……..to make way for urban sprawl. That’s a landscape twice the size of Liverpool, transformed forever, in just six years.

 

Now add in that because of recent news, many people might think twice about living in a tower block.

 

There is a real crisis here about land, wild life and people.  We really do have to choose before nature does it for us.  The choice is simple.  Build sea walls. Stop people breeding. Think about it.

 

Bill Butterworth

Land Research Ltd

27 June 2017

HMIP, NRA and LA’s

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In its day 30 years ago, the NRA managed flood risk substantially and successfully. Where is the NRA now?

Some of us are old enough to remember that until the grandness of the Environment Agency was created as a monument in Whitehall, there were a number of smaller bodies.

HMIP, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution, was widely respected as doing a pretty good job. The NRA, National Rivers Authority, similarly and after being beefed up after the 1954 floods, did a really good job in managing water supply and preventing floods. The LA’s, Local Authorities, took care of wastes at a local level – officers patrolled their local patch and if there was a complaint they sorted it. (Anybody heard of “localism?)

Why is it that the Civil Service thinks it has the management skills to run big, centralised organisations? Mostly, centralisation doubles costs and halves effects. Why not just go back to HMIP, NRA and LA waste management?

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 2 Nov 16