Drought, what agriculture awaits us

Drought, what agriculture awaits us


The (few) rains of the last few days will not be enough to solve the problem of drought, which has now spared no one in Italy, and not only agricultural production is at risk. Winter, Coldiretti denounces, has left northern Italy dry with below-average rainfall after a 2022 in which 30% less rain fell with estimated damages of six billion. The large lakes record filling percentages ranging from 23% of Lake Como to 38% of Lake Garda, the height of which is at an all-time low for the period. Not even the great river of the North, the Po, is in better shape: the water level at the Ponte della Becca was -3.3 meters a few days ago, as in summer.

Francesco Vincenzi, president of Anbi (National Association of Territorial Management and Protection Consortia and Irrigation Water) explains the situation to sportsgaming.win: "Last year we managed to guarantee water to almost all the territories, albeit with reductions but the situation of the aquifers was different, we were emerging from a winter where we had stored water in any case. Now, in addition to not having any in the large alpine lakes, such as Maggiore and Garda, which have very low filling compared to 2022, this year there is also a lack of 80-90% of water in the aquifers This is not only a problem of agriculture but also of the social and environmental stability of the entire Po valley area, where we produce 40% of GDP national".

The situation:

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Water basins

But will the rains of these days at least save the spring sowing that worries farmers so much? "They have been important but they certainly don't solve the problem of drought, the temperatures remain high for the period in which we are - adds Vincenzi -. Today the whole country is affected by this lack of rain but we have territories that react differently. The north the west today is the one that suffers most of all, in particular Piedmont is the one that is suffering the greatest damage, but the whole area of ​​the Po Valley is in great difficulty, from Lombardy to Emilia and Veneto. the lack of snow and rain is causing significant deficits. In the south it hasn't rained for a long time, but being more 'accustomed' to water shortages, they have different infrastructures than in the North and are able to survive a few more days. The South has invested in passed into large reservoirs".

For interventions in the short term, according to Vincenzi, a " strong cultural action must be put in place: we have territories and countries that use less than half the water compared to Europe and Italy. We need to make water more efficient 'use of the resource" . In the medium and long term, on the other hand, "the capacity to retain water must increase: in Spain they are at 35% while we are stuck at 11%: therefore new reservoirs are needed, including medium and small ones, ponds and dams. We must also reuse water that is not used today, purifying it in the best possible way.I am thinking, for example, of the waste water from some types of purifiers, which today goes into the sea, or others that are purified but are not used because they are far from the point of use where would be useful".

Although the attention given to the issue by the government is appreciated, the president of Anbi underlines how even the figure of the extraordinary commissioner cannot be considered the solution to all problems: "We must not delude ourselves that anyone intervene and make it rain - concludes Vincenzi -. downstream, or between those cross-border territories: many of our 'waters' are in connection with Switzerland, Slovenia and France" .

Water arrives in some municipalities in Northern Italy with tankers to cope to drought According to the Po River Authority, the water stress recorded in January and February is worsening throughout the North West: 6.5% of the Municipalities of Piedmont and Lombardy resort to tankers

Farmers: “We are sowing on dust”

"With this climate it is no longer even possible to have guarantees that the seed will germinate, in fact we are sowing on dust" . The sentence is from Franco Ramello, economic manager of Coldiretti Piemonte, and already from here we can understand the extent of the drought problem for the Po Valley area. By dint of braking, he says, “there is already talk of 20-30% less corn that will be sown, as well as rice. We are slowing down with a lot of concern and we are trying to sow seeds where we think there is more likelihood of a suitable water supply".

He explains that the major criticalities concern wheat "which is struggling to grow: the rains of the last few days have just wet the first 5 centimeters of earth: the situation is serious. We are at the end of March but the dry season is which started very early compared to last year where in any case the aquifers had water. In June we can talk about two years of drought in the area ". He is trying to move, where the land does not have a large water availability, "towards less demanding crops, such as soybeans and other legumes or alfalfa meadows" but the farmers' alert remains high. Among the solutions there can no longer be only "large dams, which have a significant environmental impact. We need medium-sized basins that can also collect water for the production of electricity" . In the environment of the Po Valley, the period in which to sow ends in these spring months of March and April: "We can't delay, in October we close our doors with the first frosts, our environment is like this, it's not like the South Italy" .

The situation does not change much in Lombardy: "The attention is maximum because the hydrometric bulletins are still at critical levels below the seasonal averages, in some cases even worse than last year - explains Ermes Sag├╣la , agronomist and manager of the agricultural assistance center of Coldiretti Lombardia -. We are trying to organize ourselves on the new campaign so as not to have a reduction in crops. Last year, for example, in the region we had problems with corn which in the end was partly not sown because there was no land available".

To avoid major losses, many have grown cereals that are sown in autumn, which are harvested in a month or two, and on the crops that will have to be sown after Easter: "Some producers are thinking of reducing the area of rice, preferring soy which requires less water, but the problem remains corn which is essential for animal husbandry in Lombardy " . To find out whether or not there will be very substantial reductions, we will have to look at the situation shortly: "If there are any problems with the crops, we will know in a couple of months because we will see how the sowing goes, what is certain is that we will have to think of systems irrigation systems that require less water, using rainwater with collectors or wells capable of drawing water from the groundwater" . The problem is also linked to atmospheric events with abundant and too concentrated rains, which do not allow the earth to absorb water in the right way: "The ideal would be a rain that lasts a few days because water bombs bring only hail or stagnant water that creates other problems" .

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