As the Met Office issues warnings of another spell of hot dry weather in August, and much of Europe continues to bake in its third heatwave since June, fears are growing that extreme drought driven by climate change in the continent’s breadbasket nations will dent stable crop yields and deepen the cost-of-living crisis.
The European Commission on Wednesday urged EU member states to re-use treated urban wastewater as irrigation on the continent’s parched farms, after France and parts of England saw their driest July on record. France received just 9.7 mm of rainfall in July.
In Britain, the Met Office confirmed that July was the driest for England since 1935, and the driest on record for East Anglia, southeast and southern England. Matt Williams, of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), commented, “Some are saying this could be as bad as 1976, when failed crops sent food prices up 12%. This would come on top of food prices that are already sky-high due to the costs of inputs like fertiliser and energy from gas.”
Tom Bradshaw, the deputy president of the National Farmers’ Union, said, “The impacts of this prolonged spell of dry weather are hugely challenging for many farms across the country and causing concern for all farming sectors. With the forecast predicting more dry weather in the coming weeks, we will continue to monitor for any impacts on UK food production.
“Your onions, your potatoes, your carrots, your lettuce that require irrigation to grow, many of those farms have been using irrigation for several months now and will be getting to a situation where it is running very, very low and there will be some that are running out imminently.”
“We lost entire plantings of peas, entire sowings of broad beans, things like baby spinach was lost, salad heads were lost,” said Vernon Mascarenhas, of Covent Garden wholesaler Nature’s Choice. “If we are going to get another impact of hot weather, we could be in real trouble.”
Ian Hall of Tompsett Burgess Growers and the British Carrot Growers Association, told The Telegraph, “Because the crop is responsive to water and also with the temperature [as] once they get to say 28 degrees the carrots stop growing, the results are that the carrot crop are just not growing fast enough.”