Is waterlogging of farm fields partly due to reduction in deep ploughing? Columnist Hugh Rogers offers food for thought
Farmers in our area are complaining about waterlogged fields which are spoiling crops and in some cases preventing sowing being done at all. Whilst it is certainly the case that exceptional amounts of rain fell in 2012, it may not all be the fault of The Almighty's over-enthusiastic response to the drought earlier in the year.
I was chatting recently with a retired tractor driver, who suggested that farmers themselves may have contributed to their own troubles by drastically reducing the amount of deep ploughing. The increasingly common practice of shallow ploughing - essentially merely stirring up the very topmost layers of soil, no doubt in order to squeeze the maximum use (and profit) from the available land, leaves the undersoil compacted and in no condition to absorb rainfall. Not being in the wheat-growing business myself, I have no idea whether there is any truth in this. Perhaps some media-savvy farmer could take time off wading through muddy fields for the benefit of the TV cameras to give us his opinion.
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