England is proposing a new system for dealing with town flooding that would involve making use of farmers’ land to take care of the flood water that would typically move down towards towns during high rain seasons.
The system would involve placing barriers, special cuts and notches in embankments, trenches, and other methods of routing water away from the places where flood water would be undesirable. Instead, routing the waters to open lands where they are less likely to affect masses of populations.
Farmers that give their land to the cause would be paid a significant amount of money to do so, as supported by the National Farmers Union, and it would mean farmers would have a lot more work to do to clear flood waters and fewer crops to harvest for profit, which is why they would be compensated for the inconvenience.
It’s somewhat of an odd compensation to think about, considering that farmers are currently paid in England to keep their land in farmable condition. Waterlogged land from heavy rain water would clearly prevent land from being farmable, negating the effects of this payment they’re already receiving, but farmers would still receive compensation for their troubles if they dedicated their land to flood avoidance.
"Waterlogged fields are no use to farmers," said Professor Alan Jenkins, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. "They can't maintain their productivity on waterlogged soil so it makes sense for them to manage their fields accordingly. There is a potential downside however, in that if we increase drainage in fields during heavy rainfall, it's possible there will be increased and faster transmission of water in the river system with a possible increase in flood risk downstream."
The move would be beneficial for the safety of towns, but it could also harm availability of crops. Since the land would be un-farmable when drenched, it’s possible such a move would affect crop availability at certain times of the year.
The proposals are still very young and there are many things to check and balance before such proposals could be implemented. Overall, however, it seems like a promising way to deal with all of the flood waters, especially considering farmers may be able to harness the water for future farming techniques.