Guest post from Dr. David Roberts, Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries, Scotland – SRUC Dairy Research Centre, a LEAF Innovation Centre.
Crichton Royal Farm is a 252ha farm which, as the SRUC Dairy Research Centre, aims to develop, implement and provide information from sustainable breeding and management systems for dairy cattle. Some of the key objectives include finding ways to improve the health and welfare of UK dairy herds and measuring different systems’ effects on the environment.
Although 2012 was a very wet year with 1358mm of rain, there was actually more rain in 2011 (1433mm). Figure 1 shows the annual rainfall for the last 9 years. The average rainfall for the 33 years (1954 – 1986) was 1041mm, the average for the last 9 years has been 14% higher at 1189mm.
It is not just the monthly average which is important but the rainfall in any one day. The five highest rainfall days for 2012 were:
- 11th October 34.7mm
- 20th December 33.7mm
- 24th September 30.6mm
- 15th June 30.2mm
- 24th December 29.9mm
There were another 9 days with over 20mm of rain. These are a long way short of the wettest day on record when almost 100mm of rain was recorded on 30th October 1977.
Comparing 2012 with 2011 (Figure 2) June onwards was wetter in 2012 but 2011 had a very wet January, February and May.
These variable weather patterns provide challenges for managing agricultural businesses. How will 2013 compare?
Mother Nature has always been unpredictable – whilst we can’t control her disposition or the effects thereof, there are certainly important lessons to be learnt from tracking weather patterns. The key thing is to ensure farmers are armed with the right tools to address these challenges through smarter, more integrated, management practices. Integrated Farm Management helps us do just this.
[Note: for an alternative viewpoint at Loddington, Leicestershire, please see Phil Jarvis’ blog here – Met Office v Loddington]