Climate Change

How it is likely to affect agriculture – and what farmers can do about it

Climate change – global warming – is likely to affect all of us. Farmers in particular, whose livelihoods are directly linked to climate and the weather, will be amongst the first to notice a difference. Not all of the changes will necessarily be bad for agriculture but there could be some serious problems.

Scientists believe that warming is taking place because of the increased production of greenhouse gases that started with the industrial revolution. These cause the planet to retain more of the sun’s energy and result in higher surface temperatures. As their name suggests, these gases act like the glass in a greenhouse.

Likely consequences for farmers

The bad news

There are several possibilities here. If extreme weather becomes more frequent, which is predicted, unexpected periods of drought or flooding could devastate crop production through disease or desiccation. Over time this may lead to a change to the crops we grow in certain places. There is also a belief that disruption of soils during ploughing increases the amount of greenhouse gases released in to the atmosphere.

The possible benefits

On the plus side the projected increases in CO2 if harnessed effectively could result in improved crop production. It is believed that improved plant breeding will lead to varieties that will take advantage of enhanced CO2 and have better disease resistance.

What you can do

There are important things that farmers can do to help combat the effects of climate change including:

  • Supporting conservation measures to maintain the pool of beneficial invertebrates
  • Taking care in the selection and application of fertiliser products
  • Keeping soil disturbance to a minimum

What DKB is doing

The weight of evidence suggests that we can help to combat the effects of climate change most effectively by adopting sound and well advised approaches to crop protection and management. We believe that it is possible for us to help crops overcome the detrimental effects of global warming by using our understanding of crop physiology and nutrition. Working in this way will, we think, lead to plants that will trap more of the CO2 in the atmosphere. This will be good for the planet and good for food production – with crops that trap more CO2, yields should increase.