Dry weather causing problems for farmers in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

The dry Spring weather is causing problems for farmers in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire as they contend with a lack of rainfall.

Rain is needed at the start of the season to help with crop and plant growth with livestock also being affected by a lack of grass growth.

It has been one of the driest April's ever recorded with the Met Office saying that very low percentages of rainfall have occurred compared to previous years.

Farmers are also having to deal with the knock-on effects of last year's warm spell with the price of hay and feed increasing.

The price of feed and hay has increased because of dry spells last year. Credit: ITV News

David Crabtree, who works as a hill farmer in Skipton, said: "If we don't get grass growth in Spring it seems to knock-on for the rest of the year for crops or for grass or whatever.

"Of course we're also all spring-fed water supplies on the farm and they're just feeling it as well. It's going to be serious if it carries on much longer."

David said that the cold nights which have joined the warm and dry days have also affected the grass growth.

Credit: ITV Weather

Analysis by ITV Calendar weatherman Jon Mitchell

It's been a very dry April, not only over our region but also over much of the UK, parts of North Yorkshire for instance have only seen 4mm of rainfall which is around 8% of the Long Term Average (LTA), likewise Lincolnshire has seen just 5% of the LTA this month.

South Yorkshire has seen even less at 5% of the LTA and this of course comes on top of a relatively dry March where Leeming in North Yorkshire saw only 48% of the LTA and Lincolnshire only saw 53% of the LTA.

Temperatures have a bearing on plant growth too - suppressed temperature equals suppressed growth. Minimum temperatures for April have been three degrees below normal which resulted in many keen touches of frosts.

Since 1998 UK has seen 7 of the 10 wettest years on record, however, that has not been evenly distributed with floods followed by droughts - and that's always been the case and climate models project UK winters to become warmer and wetter on average and Summers to become hotter and are more likely to be drier.

In the shorter term though it is going to become more unsettled with at last a drop of rain.

Henry Ward, a farmer in Lincolnshire, had his farmland underwater a few months ago and now it is so dry that he can't grow any crops.

He said: "I've never known an April this dry, I mean I have only been farming for ten years, but my dad and grandfather have never known an early spring be this dry."

Henry is also having to move sheep around because they have run out of grass in the fields.

He added: "One thing I think as a country we are very poor at is managing water. So we have these massive excesses, but we should be storing that, so we could irrigate crops with it.

"It's not rocket science, I know the infrastructure is quite an expensive thing to do, but it is going to get worse so we might as well invest and hit this problem head-on."

The National Farmers Union says many farmers are now undoubtedly feeling the effects of a change in the climate, with the traditional UK seasons appearing to be changing.

Richard Bramley from the association said: "We've gone away almost from that classic British weather of lots of rain that gives us our lovely green countryside to these blocks of really wet and then really dry."

Richard added that the weather extremes and policy changes coming off the back of Brexit are adding to the "woes" of farmers in the UK.