Hungary - Farmers build more ponds as drought and heatwaves intensify

17.08.2022 358 views

Building ponds to store water for ongoing fresh produce and other essential agricultural production has become a priority for farmers in Hungary, much like in the rest of Europe. The demand for ponds is soaring as producers across Europe experience more frequent record heatwaves and droughts during the hotter and drier summers. Intense heavy downpours, especially during spring are also leading to flash floods more often.

“Hungary is experiencing the very same issues that impact farms worldwide: unpredictable weather and extremes are becoming common events. Meaning farmers cannot rely on decades of knowledge and experience from the past, our sayings about the weather are not as relevant as they were 20 years ago. Also, farmers face very long dry periods and extreme amount of rainfall at other times. This forces farmers to think about water as our early ancestors about hunting animals: they need to catch as much water as they can when it is available and use it wisely in times of need,” says Gergely Toro, CEO of Creatiger Kft. in Hungary.

He has responded to these trends by expanding his company, which manufactures pond linings to meet the surge in the need for ponds across the country, but also in the rest of Europe. He has, together with his brother Attila, started to fabricate and supply waterproof pond lining that enables producers to install ponds much faster and at less cost.

Farmland affected by drought exceeds 550,000 hectares
Equally concerned about water management and climate adaptation for the Hungarian agricultural sector is Minister Zsolt Feldman, State Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture. In a recent meeting between him and insurance companies in Hungary he stated that the area of farmland affected by drought exceeded 550,000 hectares by mid-July.

István Jakab, President of the Association of Hungarian Farmers and Farmers' Cooperatives stated recently at a large agricultural conference that farmers must apply adaption strategies: “The cornerstones of the strategy are, among other things, water retention, the provision of soil life, varietal use and erosion protection to keep land, water and air safe in the long term, if not, they will suffer serious losses in the short term.”

As fabricators of the new efficient pond liners Toro says Creatiger has been receiving an increasing amount of enquiries. “We have built hundreds of ponds in different sizes and for different purposes over the years and we see an increased number of interest for new constructions. We tend to have 5-10 projects in our pipeline on a monthly basis. As pressure builds up on farmers to be able to protect their income, the interest for building huge ponds rises about 10-20% on a year-to-year basis. Building ponds is becoming especially important for fruit and vegetable farmers as they can solve two problems at once with this investment. First of all there is the simple answer to collect and preserve water for irrigation, on the other hand, this water can be very useful for preventing freeze injury. Using sprinklers to irrigate the plants, farmers can prevent freeze injury by using the energy that water releases when it freezes, so the temperature would not fall below the freezing point.”

“In our facility we fabricate the required waterproof liner to custom sizes, up to 4000-5000 m2 big panels, in one piece. This enables local producers to install the sheets themselves, save time and money thanks to the pre-fabricated liners. If professional help is needed for even bigger ponds, Creatiger will work with you for a quick and efficient installation. Producers are now forced to build more ponds and save the water as much as they can in the winter, as well as during periods of flash floods. Unlike in the past, there is not abundant water available anymore. We have seen different kinds of fruit producers, like apple, pears, cherries and table grapes across Hungary make use of our waterproof lining and have ponds installed in record time. The demand is growing daily with many enquiries coming through,” explains Toro.

Aim to expand across Europe and beyond
Toro says Creatiger's aim is to expand into the rest of Europe and make the more cost effective, but durable waterproof lining available to more farmers across the block. "In this way we aim to contribute to the water savings as well as to meet the growing need for more healthy food growing. As we see a great demand for pond construction, we are building relationships with contractors and installers all around, even outside Europe, who are looking to speed up their work, lower their costs and do more projects. We provide workshops, technical support and prefabricated fittings (pipe boots, corners) for those that are new to woven HDPE liners. As such, we have built a training area at our facility, which we use to teach techniques and provide a hands-on experience for our customers,” concludes Toro.

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