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Stackyard News Jul 06

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Prepare Now For Climate Change, Farmers Warned

Farmers should act now to cope with the effects of the wetter winters and drier summers predicted due to global warming, according to a top weather expert.

Robert Wharton - “We would all do well to heed the warnings.”

Robert Wharton

The effect on growing seasons for UK farmers will become starker, not least in terms of their water usage, warned Dr Julian Mayes, senior meteorologist at the Press Association Weather Centre.

Speaking at the annual farming conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW), Dr Mayes said globally the ten warmest years on record had all occurred since 1990, with the five warmest occurring since 1998.

Currently barely 20% of greenhouse gases were created by the agricultural industry yet the effects upon the industry would be greater than most, as the UK gets warmer.

“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,” said Dr Mayes.

“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.”

This could lead to crops requiring more irrigation being grown in the North West, instead of the South East, where rainfall levels are lower.

“On-farm water storage will become more important and we may also find far more instances of crops requiring high irrigation being grown in the North West to try to reduce the effects of water shortages,” said Dr Mayes.

“We may also witness waterlogged fields in winter, but summer droughts, so efficient water management will be vital for farmers”

He added: “To put scenarios of future climate change in perspective, we could contrast the warming suggested by models of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius over the next fifty 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.”

Robert Wharton, farming partner at Dodd & Co, Carlisle, who represents Cumbria on the ICAEW’s Farming & Rural Business Group, said: “It is important that rural businesses adapt their practices now to cope with the effects of climate change.

“We would all do well to heed the warnings.”

link Buy Local Food and Fight Climate Change
link Woodland managers plan for climate change
link Farmers meet the challenges of climate change

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