Current climate models predict that global temperatures could increase from between 1.4 to 5.8oC over the next 100 years. For the UK, climate change means higher temperatures, wetter winters and drier summers, less snow and increased risk of flooding. UK crop production and the natural environment are vulnerable to changes that will occur through climate change over a relatively short time scale. These changes will provide both constraints and opportunities.
Temperature rises in the UK are likely to result in a gradual realignment of zones suitable for production of specific crops. Evidence suggests that there will be a shift of between 200 and 300 kilometres northwards for every one degree increase in temperature. As an example, this would result in the south of England having a similar climate to the Loire Valley in France, by 2060.
UK crops and natural environments are likely to change. Novel or unusual species and varieties in the UK such as sweetcorn, sunflowers, soya and maize for cereals, could provide opportunities for UK agriculture.
However, farming and environmental management practices will need to adapt to meet these changes. It is predictable that new pest and disease pressures (both positive and negative) will be experienced for existing and novel crops and for native plant species. Climate change will affect maturity and harvest dates and have significant impacts on water requirements.
The ability of agriculture to adapt to and cope with climate change depends on factors including arable-land and water resources, farming technology , crop varieties adapted to local conditions, access to knowledge, infrastructure, and appropriate knowledge transfer mechanisms.
The purpose of this project will be to identify relevant information from regions experiencing micro climates relevant to UK climate change; to develop partnerships with organisations within the UK and elsewhere to collate data; and to establish a mechanism for underpinning innovation in agriculture furthering adaptation to climate change.
The project will be led by a multidisciplinary group based at the University of Warwick but will involve a wide range of stakeholders.
A great deal of research has already been commissioned on climate change impacts and adaptation (Defra’s CC03 Programme). This project will build on that information and make use of players involved in that research. To reach consensus on the priorities and the best examples to pursue for adoption and adaptation, a critical stage involving the Delphi technique will be employed.