Fears for business at “dustbowl” farm

NAWN110504 Farmer Nigel Liddle.Concerned farmer Nigel Liddle.  110504AMb
NAWN110504 Farmer Nigel Liddle.Concerned farmer Nigel Liddle. 110504AMb

A WORRIED Collingham farming family have told of their “sleepless nights” as their crops struggle to grow in parched, rain-starved fields.

Nigel Liddle and his wife Grace drilled a second crop of linseed at the end of March, but after one of the warmest April’s on record - and a near total lack of rain - some of the crop has failed to germinate.

Now the family fear for the future of their business.

The fields around Compton Grove Farm, near Collingham, are bone dry and the family are now praying for significant rainfall.

“I’d say a good third of the linseed has failed to germinate and its the same across the board,” Mrs Liddle said.

“It’s a dustbowl - we need rain. We’ve been starved of water and as a business you start to think ‘heck, what are we going to do?’ We need a rainfall quickly. We’ve not seen a spot of it for a good six weeks now.

“We’re hoping that the rest of the crop will germinate if there is rain but there comes a point when it won’t take. The truth is we just don’t know.

“The crop was sown in perfect conditions but you can see by just looking at the fields that its now virtually the opposite of ideal.

“We rang the people we bought the seeds from in Hampshire and they said an awful lot of other farms across the country are really struggling too. We’re hoping for rain at the weekend.”

Nigel Liddle added: “Business is just getting off the ground, we had a beautiful crop last year, but this year the crop is being starved of water and is suffering as a consequence.

Mr Liddle has even devised one final bid to solve the problem - stripping off in a bid to attract rainfall!

After many sleepless nights praying for rain, and much to their daughter’s embarrassment, Nigel decided that stripping off was his final option.

“It is my last hope, our new venture is going down the pan if it doesn’t hurry up and rain – what else am I meant to do!”

Mr Liddle and his family - wife Grace, and daughters Beth and Hannah - made the decision to diversify last year, opting to grow and produce flax oil.

They began to grow linseed and cold press it as an oil supplement for animals, currently on the market for horses and dogs.