As Glasgow gears up for the COP26 climate change conference this November, we are served with a stark reminder of the accelerating pace of global warming.
Unseasonably warm temperatures and unprecedented rainfall demonstrate the swinging pendulum of changing weather patterns, with extremes no longer an anomaly.
In fact, the Met Office predicts that, by 2070, winter will be between 1 and 4.5°C warmer and up to 30% wetter, whilst summer will be between 1 and 6°C warmer and up to 60% drier.
Feeling the heat
The farming community is feeling the impact of climate change more keenly than most.
According to The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scotland had less than half the normal rainfall for June (45%) and was 1.4°C warmer than usual. As a result, water abstractors were urged to monitor their water usage to ensure they were operating at maximum efficiency.
As well as implementing strategically-located on-site water storage solutions, soil monitoring can be an effective strategy for ensuring irrigation is scheduled accurately. Efforts should be made to ensure water applications are optimised, based on variables such as individual crop response and the water retention capacity of the soil.
In some cases, changes may be needed to the crops grown to improve production yields, soil drainage or to reduce soil-borne disease.
As well as choosing stronger, more resilient breeds of crop or switching to growing different crops altogether, farmers will increasingly have to adapt crop timings.
Technological solutions, such as software tools that incorporate AI modelling, can assist farmers in building ‘profit maps’ and enable improvements in field utilisation.
Finally, as weather and market volatility continue, it is imperative that farmers take steps to future-proof their business and a robust, comprehensive farm insurance policy should be an integral part of any business strategy.