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Mitigating Extreme Rainfall: October 2023 Flooding

26 October 2023

Further Information

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Climate Climate's adaptation list.

SEPA Flood Forecast

FAS: Helping Farmers Adapt To Climate Change

October 2023 Rainfall 

October 2023 has witnessed unprecedented rainfall in parts of Scotland resulting in devastating physical damage and financial loss for farmers. Red weather warnings, extreme periods of rainfall and flood warnings across the country have resulted in severe damage to fields, crops, buildings, and soil stability. Farmers are now faced with how to mitigate the losses on their land.   

The two storm periods on 6-7 October and Storm Babet 18-20 October being in close proximity has exacerbated the damage. The water table following the heavy rainfall during early October resulted in land becoming saturated and not falling before Storm Babet’s arrival. Farmers had to postpone harvest due to bad weather delaying getting onto fields. This in turn has resulted in severe crop losses with fields being submerged for significant time periods. In addition, the water damage to infrastructure on farms, including road damage is significant. The velocity of the water on farm has caused significant soil erosion on farm, with soil, tree, and hedge losses.  

Currently farmers are evaluating the damage on their land and waiting for the water to recede to assess the total losses. The cost to mitigate the damage will be vast, with some fields resulting in a total loss of crop.   

Flood water surrounding a cottage

River Dee on 20 October 2023 

What can farmers do now? 

To mitigate, land managers will need to assess the initial damage that their land has experienced and document the losses. The land will need time to recover, and emphasis should be placed on specific areas to prevent further damage occurring. With winter approaching it is expected that wet weather will continue, so putting in mitigating features now will help the land over winter months following into spring.  

Speak to your local advisor to form a plan moving forward to ease the pressure on your land. 

Forward Planning 

Looking to next year there are steps that can be taken to try to ease the pressure from extreme weather on farm. It is predicted that Scotland will become wetter with increased intense rainfall, which if not mitigated will lead to increased pressure and flooding on land. 

See our dedicated webpages which look at the various methods that farmers can adapt to working in a changing climate and ways to work with the land during times of flooding

Planning your business decisions with the changing climate can be crucial to reducing risk on farm. By completing an Integrated Land Management Plan (ILMP) you can apply for funding to work with a specialist advisor to help plan and secure resilience against the changing climate, ultimately allowing you the opportunity to put measures and practices on farm which are tailored to your needs.  

Looking to the future, it is expected that increased weather extremes will become more frequent, and putting in place schemes and areas to cope with additional water on land may be an economical way of saving your land and working with the environment. SRUC have produced a guidance document and videos on Natural Flood Management.  

Flooded fields

Further information/resources to manage water on farm 

SEPA Flood Forecast 

Forage Affected By Flooding | Helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service ( 

Managing water on your farm: 

Water Management on your Farm: Catchment Based Approach 

Nature Based Solutions to Combat Drought and Flooding | Helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service ( 

FWN39 Spring 2023 - New Guidance for Using Trees to Combat Flooding | Helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service ( and draining for profit and flood prevention| Farm Advisory Service ( 

Flood Resistant Fences | Helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service ( 

Farming for a Better Climate host a helpful adaptation checklist, looking at ways to mitigate against a changing climate, funded by the University Innovation Fund. 

Farming Water Scotland have produced a Natural Flood Management Page with guides to looking into ways and methods to work with water on your farm 

Valuing Your Soils brochure provides useful information on soil and ways to enhance efficiency. 

Flood water surrounding a cottage

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