Drought-affected Alpine pastures get emergency help

Emergency measures and funds are needed to ferry water to cow pastures in the Alps where hot weather is drying up herd reservoirs. Keystone

The Swiss Mountain Aid foundation is providing emergency aid to combat drought in mountain pastures. The foundation has allocated CHF500,000 ($503,000) to cover the costs of drinking water supply.

This content was published on August 7, 2018 - 11:24

Switzerland is experiencing its lowest rainfall in nearly a century, the charity noted in a statement on Tuesday. Since the start of weather records in 1864, there have been only three periods between April and July with less rainfall. 

Alpine farms are particularly affected by the heatwave as the soil dries up under the scorching heat. Transporting water by tanker truck, or even by helicopter in the most remote areas, is costly. Dairy cows need as much as 100 litres per day in such high temperatures,.

Farmers cannot shoulder the problem alone, says the charity, which has committed to covering about half of the total costs of water transportation to Alpine pastures.

“As a result of water shortages, farms would be deprived of fodder for the winter months,” explained the foundation’s project manager, Kurt Zgraggen.

The Swiss Army helps the Canton Vaud to manage the consequences of the heat wave. Keystone

Meanwhile, an army-backed operation to transport water to livestock in summer pastures is underway in the mountainous canton of Vaud in western Switzerland.

Super Puma helicopters are being used to bring water to cows grazing in the Jura Mountains and sub-Alpine pastures, the Swiss News Agency reported.

There are some 40,000 head of cattle summering in the region, according to the cantonal joint chiefs of staff cited by the agency on Tuesday.

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