Growers advised on water management care as reservoir refilling stalls

Consultant John Adlam said nurseries and growers in some parts of England with winter-filled reservoirs were finding that there was not yet any water in their rivers to fill them. Some are having to rethink cropping programmes to survive during this season.

"I have been making applications to the Environment Agency for permission for growers to fill reservoirs beyond the licence cut-off date of 31 March. I have started to receive those letters now which gives permission to fill reservoirs when river flows are at permitted levels through until June and to take flood water through the year for reservoir filling."

He warned that growers who have spent money on water recycling and rainwater harvesting schemes still need to be careful.

Many reservoirs are still low for the time of year and the recharge flow is well down.

Meanwhile, plants suffering from water stress are more likely to succumb to common pests and diseases so crop protection measures need to be stepped up and monitored more frequently.

The use of wetting agents and surfactants in growing media will ensure better water distribution in the pot when applications are scarce, said Adlam. He advised a look at the distribution patterns of sprinklers because an even application is "far more miserly on water" than an uneven one.

Using drip irrigation or sand beds also reduced water use and helped to save on water consumption, he added.

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