Friday, October 29, 2010

Climate extremes to challenge UK agriculture

Fresh Plaza: As climate change threatens to unevenly affect the water availability in the UK in the coming decades, the agricultural sector will need to adapt to new farming practices and more variable weather conditions. Researchers at the University of Reading released a report last week which details challenges faced by farmers.

The report is entitled Water for Agriculture - Implications for future policy and practice and was commissioned by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE). Conducted by scientists at the University of Reading, the study shows that climate extremes such as drought and flooding are likely to reduce the amount of water for agriculture and horticulture. This will provide a major challenge to farmers, researchers, plant breeders and policy makers across the UK.

According to the report, while climate change is expected to produce higher temperatures, drier summers and wetter winters across much of England, the effects on water availability will vary throughout the country and even, from year to year, in the same areas.

Direct abstractions are likely to become less reliable during the summer and more seasonal; meanwhile, the higher-intensity rainfall in certain periods of the year will produce high runoff, and thus less water will be able to percolate into aquifers, the report says.

Different crop types will be affected in different ways, requiring farmers to change their farming practices or even move their crops to other locations. Crops that need irrigation, such as vegetables and sugar beet in particular, may be forced to shift from the drier east of England to the wetter west of the country….

Wold House Farm north east of Garton on the Wold, East Riding of Yorkshire, shot by Stephen Horncastle, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

No comments: