Farmer Andrew Blenkeron in a water-scarce maize field in Euston, UK on August 10, 2022 (AFP/William EDWARDS)
Exploding energy prices, droughts and historic heat waves, many “mass blows” for an English farmer, forced him to make painful choices to save part of the harvest.
Electricity bills for the Euston estate, 130km north-east of London, have quadrupled this year to “370,000 pounds sterling” (438,000 euros), its manager Andrew Blenkeron told AFP.
This is the result of a tripling of rates at a time when parts of the United Kingdom will once again experience temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, but the weather will require more water to be pumped.
With “unbelievable heat and very dry air”, the potato fields need “probably twice as much” water, Mr. Blenkron promises. .
Farmer Andrew Blenkeron stands in front of one of the two large reservoirs at the vacant Euston estate on August 10, 2022 in the United Kingdom (AFP / William EDWARDS).
During this season, its level should reach a maximum of 5 meters, but it is almost empty.
The land in this part of Suffolk is very fertile and receives sufficient nutrients and water. However, the region received only 10% of normal rainfall in July, and less than 50% in three months.
The past exceptionally dry months in central and southern England have led to restrictions on water consumption in some areas and have been a blow to fruit and vegetable growers, who are seeing their produce decimated.
Euston Estate irrigates potatoes, it’s harvest season. In contrast, sugar beets are left to fend for themselves.
A potato field in Euston Gardens, UK on August 10, 2022 (AFP / William EDWARDS)
Mr. Discovered by accident by Blenkron, some, about the size of a volleyball, sport a wiry and stunted appearance.
“We think the yield will be halved,” says the manager, while he hopes the rains will return with the seasonal opening of the sugar mill at the end of September, as “the yams can be recovered (from the mass). Significantly.
On the other hand, it is already late for fodder corn used in cattle feed, which will cause “real difficulties this winter” to run the estate’s methanization unit.
The oil shock has tripled the price of fertilizers and doubled the price of fuel for tractors and harvesters.
Euston, owned by the Dukes of Grafton for 350 years, is forced to bear these increases alone as prices for the 2022 harvests are contractually fixed.
Drought-hit fields at Euston Gardens in the UK on August 10, 2022 (AFP/William EDWARDS)
On the other hand, “if energy prices stay the same next year, we will have to pass these costs on to our customers,” warns Mr Blenkron, adding that inflation is already the highest since the 1980s.
If there is not enough rain this winter, “very difficult decisions will be made on the amount we are going to sow”.
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