For the first time, the impact of changing weather patterns on a farmer’s pocket has been modelled. Jez Fredenburgh kicks off Farmers Weekly’s climate series looking at the effects on an arable enterprise.
A farmer’s day is ruled by the weather. For arable enterprises, this is particularly so during key seasonal periods. But planning for the next week, month, or even year or two isn’t enough anymore, say advisers.
Throughout November, farmers and growers will undertake innovative training from The Farming Advice Service (FAS), The Andersons Centre, Adas and the Environment Agency, aimed at encouraging longer-term business planning that is underpinned by weather scenarios.
“The intention is to encourage people to factor the impact of climate and weather in to their business planning proactively rather than reactively,” says Hugh Martineau, principle consultant at Ricardo-AEA, which runs FAS.
Look out for…
Farmers Weekly’s new series Rise to the Climate Challenge aims to empower farmers with the tools and knowledge to make their businesses climate resilient.
- 28 November – Weather impact model for a dairy business
- 12 December – Weather impact model for a mixed livestock business
- 2015 – Expert business planning advice each season on practical adaptation measures for arable, dairy and mixed livestock farms
“We accept that some of these impacts are very difficult to avoid, but awareness of the risks can be factored in to financial forecasting and investment decisions.”
An exercise developed by The Andersons Centre and Adas has achieved this by modelling the impact of weather scenarios on different farms.
George Cook, senior business consultant at the Andersons Centre, says: “As far as I am aware, this is the first time this has been done on a business basis, where [the impact of] changing weather patterns [on farm businesses] have been quantified.”
The key is to start thinking more flexibly, says Mr Cook, and for growers to think about solutions for their own farms, as these will change from business to business.
The focus should be on better business management, a fresh look at coping strategies and improving their understanding of soil management.
Mr Martineau says farmers can undertake analysis more specific to their own farm using this approach as a template.
“It is a useful basis for weather-based sensitivity analysis by considering the impacts of weather on variable inputs, labour and machinery,” he says.
|Business impact modelling – arable farm (£/ha)|
|Based on a farm with 600ha of winter wheat, winter OSR and spring beans, 240ha owned and 360ha on farm business tenancies, one owner, one full-time worker plus casual harvest workers.|
|Rent and finance||243||243||243||243||243|
|Margin from production||-43||-93||-110||-299||-282|
|Single Payment & ELS||217||217||217||217||217|
|Business surplus total (£)||102,000||75,000||65,000||-49,000||-45,000|
|*Source for all the data and predictions come from The Farming Advice Service, the Andersons Centre and Adas.|
|Arable farm: Weather scenarios|
|High summer temperatures, normal rainfall and sunshine levels|
Spring drought followed by high summer temperatures and low rainfall for a sustained period
High summer temperatures, summer heatwave and low rainfall for a sustained period
Higher than average rainfall, with 25% more throughout the year