Skip to main content

Adapting to Flooding & Heavy Rainfall

Over the past few decades Scotland has seen an increase in annual average rainfall and extreme rainfall events, which has led to an increased risk of flooding. The annual average rainfall in the last decade (2009-2018) was 15% wetter than the 1961-1990 average, with winters 25% wetter. This trend is predicted to continue, as long, wetter periods become more frequent. These changes are already negatively impacting soil quality, livestock and crops costing farmers time and money. To alleviate these negative impacts there are a number of options that can be considered. Download the adaptation checklist to see what additional actions you may want to consider to improve your farms resilience to heavy rainfall and increased flooding.


Flooded Fields

waterlogged field

Fields, which are submerged under water for long periods are not cost effective. Longterm submersion can affect harvests, animal health and soil quality due to lack of oxygen and build-up of anaerobic conditions, which can damage crop roots.

Soil Structure

waterlogged and compacted point in field

Soil structure is delicate and can be susceptible to compaction, leading to increased runoff rates. Runoff can increase the likelihood of soil erosion, loss of nutrients and pesticides that can cause diffuse pollution to nearby watercourses.

Reduced Grazing

cow in field

Waterlogged fields may lead to livestock being kept indoors for longer and not being able to be let outside until the fields have drained and are accessible.

Soil Health

field effluent

Flooded fields result in changes to soil biology, chemistry and physics, which can lead to a reduction in soil health. Crop disease and pests can increase under these conditions resulting in reduced yields and poor crop health.

Blocked Drains

damaged field drainage

Increasing sediment loads in surface run-off during heavy rainfall can heighten the risk of blocked drains. This will put additional strain on drainage systems and can lead to further erosion, flooding and high repair costs.

Fence or Hedge Damage

damaged hedge

Heavy rain periods can remove or destroy boundary features. This can lead to costs in replacements and more damage to your land and water, due to poaching and livestock accessing areas previously prohibited to them.

What can you do now to help future proof the business?

Many of the impacts discussed above are not new, however, climate change is exacerbating the impact on the agricultural community. Implementing measures to adapt against changing rain patterns now can help reduce risks and aid the longevity of your farming business and the productivity of your land.

Alongside monitoring weather forecasts, SEPA’s live flooding information page will help you to plan ahead and mitigate any negative effects of flooding. Signing up to SEPA’s ‘Floodline’ service will ensure you receive messages when flooding is forecast in your area. Flood maps can be viewed online so that plans can be made to adapt to areas, which have an increased risk of flooding.

Further information:

CC Adaptation Checklist


This document provides a climate change adaptation checklist for your business so that various climate change adaptation measures can be considered. This will help you determine the most suitable and effective methods for improving resilience to climate change on your farm. Additionally, the topics examined throughout this document will provide suggestions and ideas that can aid in the development of an Emergency Action Plan for your business.



Click here to download your copy