Industry Insight

Water Abstraction Reform in England and Wales

The implications of UK Water Abstraction Licencing reform on soft fruit growers.

From 1st January 2018, previously exempt users of trickle or drip irrigation are now subject to water abstraction licensing legislation. They are required to apply for a licence to continue using ground and surface water applied via trickle or drip irrigation systems to all types of crops.

Key Facts

  • New licensing became effective 1st January 2018
  • Two year period to apply for a licence
  • Licences based on water use over a seven year qualifying period
  • Growers must provide information on water use during the seven years
  • Licences will be granted within a three year period following the two year application window

The Water Abstraction Reform

Following a period of consultation with interested parties the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has introduced revised water abstraction licensing that requires most previously exempt abstractors of water from the ground and water courses to now apply for licences.

Amongst those no longer exempt are users of drip, or trickle irrigation, as defined within the legislation. This will impact many soft fruit growers in England and Wales.

This important part of the UK farming sector will need to apply within the next two years from 1st January 2018 for a license to continue to draw water from ground or surface water sources.

A key part of the reform is that growers will have to demonstrate their water use over the last seven years with the quantity of water granted in their licence being based on the historical data. It is unlikely that access to additional water will be granted and therefore water will need to be used as efficiently as possible if farmers are to be able to expand their growing hectarage and increase yield.

How can Netafim help?

Netafim’s dripper and control system technology is the most advanced available to the UK grower and offers a complete solution for the optimization of available water.

With training on operation and system audits we support growers in creating the most uniform and efficient distribution of water throughout the substrate growing media.

Netafim drippers are by far the most widely used and have an unsurpassed reliability making them the first choice of growers, not only in the UK, but across the world where over 150 billion have been used by farmers since Netafim was founded over 50 year ago. In the UK, Netafim’s wholly owned subsidiary, Netafim UK has technical support services founded on many years of experience in the soft fruit market and growers can be assured of the very best practical and relevant technical support in all aspects of the irrigation of soft fruit.

The latest innovation, undertaken in conjunction with our WET Centre partners and NIAB EMR, is the Precision Irrigation Package. This utilizes moisture sensors in the growing media that are linked via the cloud to the control system. Water application can be automatically adjusted to the optimum level to ensure a growing environment that can consistently produce the highest quality fruit with optimum use of the available water. Precision Irrigation Package systems have demonstrated significant yield increases bringing revenue benefits.

Netafim is also a sponsor of The WET Centre, the UK’s centre of soft fruit excellence bringing together leading scientists and suppliers to enable growers to significantly improve crop performance and financial returns.

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