14 MARCH 1941, Page 14


The Land Drainage Problem Long before the war drew attention in this column to the hopeless state of land-drainage in England ; now a correspondent, who as a partner in a famous firm of estate-agents knows more than most of us about land values, sends me details of a scheme by which he believes the agricultural drainage problem could be simply and quickly solved. Talk to any farmer about land-drainage Khan; and he has one reply: an essential thing, yes, but what about the money and, more important, the labour? In spite of the 5o per cent grant, my correspondent declares that the greater number of farmers and landowners " still hesitate because they yet have to find the money as soon as the work is completed or else run the risk of having their land charged "; yet the total cost of dealing with 20 per cent. of our 20,000,000 acres of arable and pasture would, at Do per acre, require only one-tenth of the sum raised in War Weapons Week. The labour problem, too, he believes, could be simply solved, since it is not recurrent. One huge effort and a job is completed that will last for years. So there should be a" land army formed in each district by the co-operation of the labour exchanges and the Army services, and directed by the Regional Commissioner. The successful operation of this scheme would depend, of course, on the length of red tape unravelled: but that has nothing to do with my correspondent. Mean- while I have not seen any large drainage schemes in operation, though I have no doubt they exist ; whereas the clay lands of the Kentish Weald, a few days ago, looked as if they were part of a vast irrigation-scheme.