5 questions about climate change impacts on farmers

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10 November 2021

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The effects of the changing climate on farmers and gardeners have been mapped out for some time. Several researchers are working on this. Yet the consequences are different for every farm, every crop and every region. Climate change is a many-headed monster.

Who will bring the climate damage to agriculture into focus?

World-wide and certainly also in the Netherlands, research is being conducted into the consequences of climate change for agriculture. Institutes involved in this include KNMI and Wageningen University & Research. LTO Nederland, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Union of Water Boards, provinces, municipalities and the Dutch Association of Insurers are working together in the Action Programme on Climate Adaptation in Agriculture.

What is the purpose of this action programme?

By the end of this year, the risks, constraints and opportunities in the area of climate adaptation must be mapped out by sector and type of land use. In addition, measures are being prepared to solve bottlenecks and take advantage of opportunities. The goal is that by 2030 all entrepreneurs in agriculture and horticulture will be prepared to deal effectively with changes in the climate. Thus, a total overview of opportunities for farmers to prepare for climate change is created.

Which changes affect Dutch agriculture the most?

Those are changes in temperature, precipitation, evaporation and weather extremes. In all of KNMI's climate change scenarios, the temperature in the Netherlands rises, especially in the winters. Hot summers and mild winters become more common. Precipitation increases in all seasons except for summer. Evaporation increases by 3 to 7 percent until 2050. In summer, it will be 4 to 11 percent.

What does this mean for the various crops?

The study 'Open crops and climate adaptation in relation to financial resilience' looked at a number of crops. The biggest risks for potatoes, for example, are a wet spring, a wet autumn and prolonged wet weather in the summer. Corn can withstand heat well, but extreme drought inhibits growth.

Are there also opportunities due to climate change?

Research has also been done into this. The benefits for Dutch agriculture are mainly due to our innovative strength, which creates new export products. Think of breeding and water techniques. The starting points for Dutch farmers and horticulturalists are also a lot more favorable than, for example, countries around the Mediterranean Sea, where some crops will no longer be possible.

Source: new-harvest