'We've never seen the likes of this' - farmers' fears over weeks of wet weather

Farmers have brought their livestock indoors and delayed sowing their spring crops amid flooding and severe downpours.

This winter has been one of the wettest farmers across Scotland can remember.

Crops are beginning to spoil, spring crops haven’t been sown, and livestock are being brought indoors to protect them from the elements.

Last year, Storm Babet brought record levels of rainfall to eastern Scotland. Since then, there’s been little let up in the damp conditions, with dozens of flood warnings issued across the country and more than ten named storms.

Andrew Connon is the vice president for the National Farmers Union in Scotland.

He said: “We’ve never seen the likes of this, rain week after week.

“The ground conditions are very difficult, and it’s been sore on livestock as well. it’s having a major impact on both livestock and arable farmers and on farmer’s mental health, it’s miserable.”

Andrew is a livestock farmer, and has brought his ewes and lambs indoors, and hasn’t been able to turn out his cows.

But keeping them inside comes with additional costs.

He said: “This impacts on the need for straw and feed for Scotland’s livestock producers.

“The costs have been quite steep anyway and what we’re seeing now is that straw is quite scarce because it’s in demand and that’s causing a concern up and down the country.”

Meanwhile near Kintore, arable farmer Scott Campbell is anxiously waiting for a dry spell to spray his crops to prevent them from spoiling.

The conditions and timing for applying fertiliser and nutrients to his winter wheat is crucial.

He said: “The crops we planted during last year are starting to go yellow because they need nutrients and fertiliser which I can’t get on them because the fields are too wet for the tractors.

“If the plants are wet the spray can’t take hold on the plant.

“If we can’t get these products onto the crop at the right time, the quality of the crop could deteriorate as could the gross margin.

“Then we won’t make a profit.”

Scott is also waiting to sow his spring crops.

He added: “People often say to me, well it’s a nice day tomorrow, but for the likes of this field, it’s going to need three days of sun and wind to dry it out.

“The next fortnight of weather will be absolutely crucial for Scotland’s farmers.”

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