Monday, 10 February 2014
#Forageaid To Flooded Somerset
On Saturday 8th February, after a few frantic phone calls with the Nation Farmers Union, based in the South West of England we were ready to swing into action. Everybody will have witnessed the long period of devastation the flooding on the Somerset Levels has caused farmers and home owners; for a period of almost 6 weeks. Livestock are being moved from flooded farmyards, to higher ground or to livestock markets for their safety. Access to forage is becoming a problem for these farmers, at home but also for those who's livestock are spread around the countryside. Much of the forage, made during the summer is underwater and will not be safe to feed to livestock even if they could be reached.
We were more than happy to donate over 80 bales of hay to the crisis down on the Somerset Levels. We are very grateful to all of the hauliers that are donating their lorries, fuel and labour to help supply feed to the animals in Somerset. Our feed was transported to the Sedgemoor Livestock Market with hauliers from Walsall in the West Midlands D.E.O'Reilly
The Somerset Levels have been managed by draining and ditching since days of the Roman Empire. The most recent drainage scheme was introduced by the Dutch in the 17th Century and have been managed to control the water levels ever since (at least until the late 1990's). The whole area of about 70,000Ha is very flat, below high tide levels and was once covered by the sea (up until 4500BC). It is not uncommon for this area to flood but the long period of flooding is causing real issues. The management of the main water courses has changed and water is now much slower to drain out to sea. Silting up of the rivers since the mid 1990's has reduced the water carrying capacity of the main rivers (Tone and Parrett) to about 60% of their maximum carrying capacity (EA modelling). This means water backs up and floods the levels and can't feed back into the rivers as the high banks carry the river levels higher than the surrounding farmland. The cost to farmers and house owners, who's properties have flooded is vast. Fields of grass will not recover from being under water for this length of time and will need to be resown in the spring, (or whenever the land dries out enough). Management through the ages has allowed the area to drain providing productive agricultural land. This land is the home many thousands of cattle many of whom are having to be evacuated to higher ground, leaving behind their forage (food) supplies. Hence the need for the farming community across the country to get involved and send them supplies of hay, silage and feed. The National Farmers Union is co-ordinaing the supply of forage to the Somerset area, click on the link highlighted above to see if you are able to help, or you are a farmer in need of supplies.