The current heatwave is popular with weekend BBQ-lovers, but the knock-on effect of it could force food prices even higher as UK farmers struggle to keep crops alive, says the Countryside Regeneration Trust (CRT).

Tim Scott, a CRT Trustee and tenant farmer at Lark Rise Farm in Cambridgeshire, has watched some of his wheat fields wilt and die due to the lack of rain and current high temperatures. With the Met Office issuing an Amber Extreme heat warning for England and Wales, temperatures are predicted to exceed 35C in parts of Southern England, and there’s little prospect of rain.

“It’s the spring-sown crops that are struggling because the lack of rainfall throughout their growing period has meant they’ve been less able to establish deep roots in the first place, and now the high temperatures are making a difficult situation worse,” explains Tim.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that this drought is going to impact on the amount of grain we produce, and nationally we may not be able to harvest enough grain for our needs. This will mean we need to import grain from elsewhere, but Europe’s also struggling, and of course there is the added impact of the Ukraine War on global grain stocks.”

Crops sown in the spring are much better for field nesting birds, such as the skylark, because its growth is less dense, making it much easier for the adults to find the nest when feeding young. It’s to promote this biodiversity that approximately 50% of the arable fields at Lark Rise contain spring-sown crops.

Despite the dry conditions, Tim is certain that by practising regenerative farming techniques he has been able to prevent greater drought damage to his crops. Direct drilling, rather than turning the ground over with a plough, promotes better soil, and this means even in the extreme conditions, his crop is benefiting from growing in healthier ground.

“I can see a visible difference at the farm as I have a field that I’ve been direct drilling for six years, one that I’ve been direct drilling for two years, and a test field I’ve been ploughing,” says Tim. “The six-year field is holding its own despite the dry weather, the two-year field isn’t doing so well, and the crop in the ploughed test field is dying because the sun has baked the dry soil to about 20-centimetres.”

Tim was recently interviewed on the Louise Hulland show, on Friday 15th July about his work and efforts, you can listen here.