ARCHIVE: Observatory monitoring framework – indicator data sheet
Environmental impact: Water
Indicator DA5: Water abstraction for agriculture
Water use is becoming an increasingly important issue. This indicator shows the recorded quantity of water abstracted from surface and ground water for agricultural use. Agricultural uses accounted for just 0.4% of recorded water abstraction in England and Wales in 2008. Regionally, this varied between less than 0.1% in the North West and Wales and 1.4% in the Anglian region and can be higher on a daily basis during the summer.
Chart DA5 shows the recorded levels of water abstracted in England and Wales for agricultural uses.
Spray irrigation is the dominant form of use in agriculture.
Just under half of agricultural abstractions are from surface water.
In 2008, the recorded agricultural abstraction rate of 194 Ml per day was 17% lower than 2007. Part of the apparent reduction between 2004 and 2005 was due to deregulation - abstractions of less than 20 cubic metres per day became exempt from licensing from 1 April 2005.
Water abstraction is licensed by the Environment Agency.
Reported abstractions are somewhat lower than licensed abstractions.
The Anglian and Midland regions together account for over 70% of reported abstractions for spray irrigation each year.
In 2008, there were decreases in all regions, except Anglian which saw a rise of 4%.
Spray irrigation is generally confined to the summer months when weather patterns generally govern the amount abstracted.
The 2005 Survey of Irrigation of Outdoor Crops (conducted by Cranfield University ) shows that potatoes and vegetables accounted for 83% of the volume of water used to irrigate outdoor crops in England. The Midlands and Anglian regions together account for the majority of these crops.
Other agricultural uses will be more evenly distributed across the year.
Abstractions of less than 20m3 per day became exempt from licensing from 1 April 2005. The data for other abstractions for agricultural use are more greatly affected by this change.
This indicator was updated in September 2010. It will be updated in summer 2011.
Further information and contact
Background information can be found in the accompanying fact sheet.
For information on this indicator contact Defra's Observatory team on +44 (0) 1904 455229, email: email@example.com
Page last modified: 10 November, 2010
Page published: June, 2007