22 November 2001
Climate will change farming by 2020

By Peter Read at Grain 2001

GLOBAL warming will have noticeably altered UK agriculture within 20 years, and dramatically altered it within 50 years, according to an ADAS researcher.

“Growers must prepare themselves now,” said climate change researcher Jo Hassell, at the Grain 2001 event at Stoneleigh on Wednesday (21 November).

Dr Hassell said there would be “increasingly wetter and warmer autumns and winters, drier and hotter summers, longer growing seasons, and fewer frosts.

Growing opportunities will be provided by the longer growing seasons, the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect and better harvest conditions.

But crops will be threatened by rainfall changes and the pest and weed increase, said Dr Hassell.

Cropping changes will have to be made. Novel crops like soya beans, grain maize, navy beans and vines will increase in area, she continued.

“Sunflowers will replace oilseed rape in the south and increased irrigation will be needed in the north. Livestock units will turn to arable production.

Operation timing changes will be needed. Spring and autumn work days will be lost in the east. So machinery and labour use will have to be maximised.

Dr Hassell said there is a need for a government response.

“Increased irrigation demands need to be considered, new crops and techniques need to be demonstrated and the planting of novel crops encouraged.

Predicted agroclimatic effects by 2050 are: 40% longer growing seasons, 60% fewer frost days and 300% increase in days hotter than 25C.

There will also be 15% more winter rain, 22% less summer rain and 66% higher carbon dioxide levels.

The 1990s was the last millenniums warmest decade and 1999 was the warmest year in Englands 341 years of temperature records.

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