Heat and water shortages: Will there be fewer local fruits and animals?

Standing paddling is still possible despite the low water levels in Kocher and Jagst – farmers and forest animals in particular are currently suffering from the heat and less available water. Photo: photo archive: andreas scholz

Kocher and Jagst have rarely been so flat: “The water levels in Kocher (currently 38 cm) and Jagst (28 cm) are currently below the lowest water level in an average year, Sasha Springer of the Hohenloh County Office said in a request. Hohenlohe newspaper with.

In addition, at the moment it is not expected to ease the low water situation, which has lasted for several weeks – it will have to rain more and more for a longer time. Even this will only serve to resist heat and drought for a short and temporary period. “In addition to restricting water withdrawals, it is fundamentally important to protect water bodies as much as possible from pollutant inputs and maintain them in an environmentally good condition or achieve this through appropriate measures – eg structural improvement –.”

According to Jürgen Maurer, president of the Schwäbisch Hall-Hohenloh-Rims Farmers’ Association, one possible solution could be more green roofs and trench systems: these systems can collect and store large amounts of water – for example during heavy rains. This will be necessary: ​​if it rains heavily over a short period of time, the water simply seeps through the dry soil or evaporates directly when it is hot.

Will restricted water withdrawals be extended?

In addition to the lack of rainfall, another factor has been aggravating farmers since the end of July: they are only allowed to use limited water from rivers and lakes for irrigation. And only between 6 pm and 6 am the next day. This regulation is valid in Hohenlohe until August 31, in Heilbronn until September 30.

It is not yet clear whether the temporary withdrawal of water will extend beyond that. “It remains to be seen how the precipitation situation will develop over the next few days,” the Hohenlohe County Office said. Unless weather conditions change, “the extension of the general decree is inevitable.” Instead of pouring water from the cooker and jagst, the district office asks that other sources be used instead. But what should be open.

Farmers sound the alarm

Jürgen Maurer, of the Farmers’ Association, sounds the alarm: “We can’t irrigate at the moment. We need a lot of water: millions of cubic metres.” It’s only raining quite a bit. “We need slow precipitation over three to ten days at best,” Maurer explains. “And then 50 to 100 liters per square meter would be optimal.” Only then will the soil become soft and receptive. And only then can he store water.

He describes the consequences of the lack of irrigation dramatically: “Since we are currently unable to irrigate the Hohenlohe Plain, our valuable fruits will dry up or not be marketable.” Fruit is only marketable if accepted by food retailers – that is, if it is visually flawless. If not, Maurer Black sees: “Then we are not competitors, and the goods are imported from abroad.”

Fish and bats suffer in particular

But not only local farmers are suffering. Of course, heat and low water levels affect fish especially: water that is too warm contains little oxygen and often poisonous algae form. “If nothing changes, trout, pike and eels will disappear from our streams and lakes,” warns Daniel Peterhansel, a Krautheim beaver consultant. Other animals also have to adapt their behavior: “Forest animals, which usually visit water sources only at dusk, make their way to remaining water points during the day,” says Peterhansel. The reason: The streams and ponds that these animals usually visit during the day have dried up.

The expert also says: “It can be seen that bats die from heat death under the surfaces. They can cool themselves for a while by fanning their wings, but even this is only possible to a limited extent.” Since many animals cannot sweat, they have often found other solutions to lower their body temperature. The naturalist reports, for example, that wild boars cool in mud puddles, or deer and rabbits hide in the shady forest during the day.

Concrete help for animals

How can individuals support organisms suffering from heat? Daniel Peterhansel recommends setting up bird baths and placing water bowls with stones and branches for insects and small animals in the garden or on the balcony. Garden ponds can also help, of course. And even if it’s tough in the heat: “Natural tourism should be avoided in the evening hours at streams and lakes, because when people are there, wild animals don’t dare go there to drink.” Of course, the beaver advisor also has a tip when it comes to beavers: carry and protect the species. This is because beavers regulate the groundwater level through dam building activities.

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