FARMERS in Cricklade are uncertain what the next year holds after experiencing almost 12 months of flooding on their land.
On and off heavy rainfall last year has played havoc with farming up and down the country, but farmer David Hardy, of Eysey Farm, near Cricklade, said he is fighting against flood waters which have lingered on his land since last spring.
“It has effectively been flooded on and off since April, so nearly a year,” he said.
“We’ve had no productivity on the ground that has been underwater since April.
“Our concern is because it’s been under water for such a long time, it doesn’t enable the ground to breathe and plants to grow. There is possibly a lot of debris that’s come down the river and contamination is a possibility.
“We haven’t tested it yet but there is the potential.”
Cricklade is the first town and the only Wiltshire town situated on the banks of the River Thames, and the fields at Eysey Farm that have been mainly affected by the water are often used to make hay and, in the summer months, are also used for cattle and sheep.
“The animals are in during the winter so the winter months haven’t been as much of a problem, but last summer they couldn’t graze,” said David.
“I have seen the area flooded before, going back to 2000, in the autumn, but not as bad as this.
“We think it is mainly down to the rain we’ve had. But we are also pretty sure that it is controlled by flood gates on the Thames that are obviously controlled to ensure there isn’t flooding to the lower regions of the Thames, all the way down through Oxford, Maidenhead, Windsor and on to London.
“We are pretty sure what happens is when we have an extensive period of rain, the flood water flows down the Thames, they hold the gates back at this end to control the flow at the other end so they don’t have flooding issues further down stream, which causes our land to flood for a period. When they open the gates, the water levels fall.
“The levels at the moment are starting to subside as we haven’t had a serious period of rain for some weeks so things are starting to die down.
“But it is going to take many months for the land to be put in to any productive order, especially from an agricultural point of view.
“Hopefully we won’t have as much rainfall this year, we don’t want a drought, but it would be nice to think we won’t have to deal with as much rain this year as we have done over the past 12 months.”