Climate concerns for farmers

As winters are predicted to become wetter and summers become drier the effect on growing seasons for farmers will become starker, not least in terms of their water usage.

As winters are predicted to become wetter and summers become drier the effect on growing seasons for farmers will become starker, not least in terms of their water usage.

Dr Julian Mayes, who was speaking at the annual farming conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, said that UK farmers should act soon to mitigate against the future implications of climate change in the UK.

The senior meteorologist at the Press Association Weather Centre, said that although barely 20pc of greenhouse gases are created by agriculture yet the effects upon the industry will be greater than most as global warming increases and the UK gets warmer. Dr Mayes outlined that average world temperatures have generally been increasing since the start of the 20th century and that globally the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1990, with the five warmest having each occurred since 1998.

Dr Mayes added: "Predictions suggest that the effect of increased CO2 emissions upon the agricultural sector will be that of increased water efficiency but a key challenge will be that of ensuring supplies of water remain available through summer."


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"It is also clear that the UK will experience greater regional variations in temperatures and water availability which will be starkest between the north west and the south east. Scenarios produced by the UK Climate Impacts Programme suggest that warming will be faster in south east England, precisely the area expected to experience the largest drop in summer rainfall and where water resources are under greatest stress. In this regard, it is possible to think of the current dry spell as being a sign of things to come."

Dr Mayes' key message was that farmers need to act now to think about their water usage and more importantly their future water storage solutions: "On farm water storage will become more important and we may also find that there becomes more instances of crops requiring less irrigation being grown in the north west to try to reduce the effects of water shortages. We may also witness water logged fields in winter but summer droughts so efficient water management will be vital."

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He concluded: "To put scenarios of future climate change in perspective, we could contrast the warming suggested by models of 1.5 to 2 degrees C over the next 50 years in southern England with the warming of the last 100 years which is of the order of just 0.7 of a degree Celsius."

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