The persistent dry weather these days is presenting problems for farmers, including dairy farmers, the sector reports. Thanks to a combination of drought and high temperatures, dairy cows are being deprived of a supply of fresh green grass, which is having an effect on milk production. The cows instead have to be fed with animal feed bought in, but those extra costs cannot be passed on to the milk distributors, because of the slim margins common in the industry.
In addition, fields of hay which would normally be mown several times in a season for use as food stocks later in the year are refusing to grow, meaning the alternatives will have to be used later in the year as well.
Meanwhile the provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders have announced a ban on pumping water from non-navigable waterways – all except the Ijzer and the Leie – while the drought continues. In addition, lawns and sports fields may only be watered between the hours of 20.00 and 08.00, when cooler temperatures mean the water is less likely to evaporate uselessly.
“Watering in the daytime is pointless anyway; everything evaporates immediately,” said West Flanders governor Carl Decaluwé, announcing the measure. He also called on the population to be frugal with drinking water, stocks of which are also running down.
“These measures are also unlimited in time, and will be maintained until the situation improves,” he said. “If needed, we will take additional measures. We are keeping a constant eye on the situation.”