“We are a potentially dry farm and water has a major impact on us”

“My name is Richard Morris and I’m the farm manager, here at Sheepdrove Organic Farm, just north of Lambourn, in Berkshire. It’s a two and half thousand acre farm. Thousand hectares. And we’re on a sort of loam soil, over chalk subsoil. So quite a dry farm. Potentially very dry. So water does have a major impact on us.

I’ve always believed that nature balances itself. So we’ll have a dry period then we’ll have a wet period. I think nature does that but I, personally, believe now I’m seeing changes in a bigger picture. That we can’t rely on what’s happened in the past. This winter’s been so, so interesting. And, fortunately, we’ve had this bit of rain but, if we’d not had that rain in May, I would be sitting here, now, with no grass for 1000 sheep and 500 cattle. And that would have an immediate impact on the farm. We’d run out of winter forage, two or three weeks ago, and we would have been at a point of saying, what are we gonna do? Because there’s no magic, you know? If the grass isn’t growing, we’re stuck. So it would have been a matter of losing the stock, moving the stock, selling them. And it was, not being dramatic, but it was, it is literally, we’ve been saved by a month. A month where we had rainfall. And it’s quite worrying to think, if we’d not had the rain, in May, where we would be today. I’d be making very different decisions.

So yeah, it’s. Like I was saying before, we can’t last long without water, personally, and, especially on these soils, these thin soils, over chalk, the water doesn’t stay around here for very long. It soon disappears down, into the depths, where it, where it’s no use to me. And our bore hole and our pump is a wonderful thing but does really only just supple enough water for us to drink, not to use to irrigate land. And that’s 300 metres deep, which takes us, we’re 230 metres here. So it takes us 70 metres below sea level. How big that reservoir is, I’ve no idea but, hopefully, it’ll keep going for a bit. But no, drought is something we need to be seriously concerned about.”

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