Reacting to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the possible future impacts of a changing climate, a group of farmers from Kent, Oklahoma, Australia and Bangladesh talked on Radio 5 Live about the impact of weather and climate on their own businesses.
NFU member, Andy Barr, explained how he’s converted to no-till, how he's using cover crops to improve his soil and also how he’s trying to set up his farming system to be resilient to all types of weather.
And he will need to be. The 300 scientists involved in writing the IPCC report say that the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. Observations of changing hydrological systems, species shifts and negative impacts on crop yields are presented as evidence of current change.
Looking to the future the authors state that all aspects of food security including productivity, food access, and price stability are at risk. They have medium confidence that climate change will negatively impact yields of wheat, rice, and maize in tropical and temperate regions with temperature increases of 2°C or more, although individual locations like northern Europe may benefit. After 2050 the risk of more severe yield impacts increases. However the report stresses that there are solutions to some of these potential risks.
The farmers on the radio demonstrated the industry’s ingenuity at producing food even at the margins, like Tony from Australia, who’s growing a cereal crop on about 150mm of rain, so perhaps there’s much that farmers across the world might learn from other. They also emphasised the importance of profitability. The NFU believes that only productive and profitable farmers will have the confidence to invest for an uncertain future.
Prof Mike Gooding from Reading Uni said: “The UK will still be one of the best places to grow wheat. We’ll still have comparative advantage.” The NFU believes that research needs to look now at what new crops varieties or breeds we might need for the future and that this research needs makes it out on to farm, which is where the Agri-Tech Strategy has a key role to play.
What is the IPCC report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability?
It is an updated assessment of the latest science on the possible effects of a changing climate.
A total of 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, were selected to produce the report.
They enlisted the help of 436 contributing authors, and a total of 1,729 expert and government reviewers.