25 November 1999
Climate change — good news and bad

By FWi staff

DRIER summers, wetter winters and the disappearance of frost can be expected in the coming decades, a new report on climate change predicts.

Commissioned by national and local government agencies, private companies and non-governmental organisations, the report was produced as part of the UK Climate Impacts Programme.

Steps need to be taken now to prepare for the climate change by the middle of the next century, warns Rob Jarman, environmental advisor to the National Trust, one of the groups behind the report.

Mr Jarman told BBCs Farming Today programme that soil erosion arising from winter storms will be big concern for farmers.

He added that livestock businesses dependent on getting rid of slurry, silage liquor and dirty water, will have to store the effluent longer as wetter winters will make it more difficult to put it on the land.

While a decrease in frost would be welcomed by the fruit industry, which can have its crops devastated by late frosts, the benefits of frost in conditioning soils and controlling pests would be lost.

But the lack of frost would mean up to the growing season lasting up to 20 days longer, and Mr Jarman predicted a growing interest in cultivating vines and sunflowers in the south east. Mr Jarman said: “Change is inevitable. Businesses must have a strong vision for the future but theyve got to pursue it in an environmentally acceptable way.

Some scientists do not accept that this level of climate change is inevitable and argue that even if it is, precise predictions are impossible.