Warm weather brings challenges

Enjoying warm wather
Enjoying warm wather

Northern Ireland has been basking in seemingly endless sunshine, with temperatures regularly pushing into the high 20s and above.

While the summer sun is a welcome boost, it creates a fresh set of challenges for the province’s farming community.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says farmers are making the most of the good weather, especially after the wet weather experienced over the last couple of years.

However, it is posing some challenges, particularly for livestock and arable farmers.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: “After countless months of rain, no farmer is complaining about the recent spell of good weather. One thing farmers know, it’s that you can’t control the weather. Regardless if it is hot and dry or cold and wet, farmers are resilient and resourceful and will find a way to work through it.”

The current weather has created some immediate challenges on farms in terms of water availability for livestock and crops. The dry weather is also having an impact on grass growth, which will have a longer-term impact when it comes to fodder availability for the winter.

Mr Ferguson continued: “We are keeping a close eye on the situation. We have called on the public to support the hosepipe ban to ensure that there is enough water going forward. Animal welfare and survival of crops are key concerns at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Copa and Cogeca released new estimates for this year’s EU grain harvest, forecasting a 6% drop in EU cereal and oilseeds production, due to extreme weather conditions.

Copa and Cogeca Cereals Working Party Chairman Max Schulman said: “Farmers in some Central European and Northern countries -Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Germany and Finland - have been hit by severe drought, which is reaching catastrophic proportions. Whilst some southern countries(Iberian Peninsula, Italy, France) have been experiencing floods. We consequently expect about a 6% drop in the EU cereals harvest compared to 2017, totalling 273.8 million tonnes.

“For soft wheat, a 2.2 % cut in the area is predicted as prices remain below production costs and farmers continue to be hit by the cost-price squeeze,” Schulman added.

To support farmers suffering of extreme climatic adverse effects, Copa and Cogeca are consequently requesting an advance payment from the EU Commission to help farmers stay afloat.