Farmers and horticulturists are being advised to act now in order to survive the years of drought ahead.
A recent report commissioned by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) shows that higher temperatures and lower annual rainfall in summer is likely to reduce river flow and subsequently reduce the availability of water for the agricultural and horticultural industries in England.
The report was carried out by scientists from the Walker Institute for Climate System Research and the School of Agriculture – both a part of the University of Reading. Agri-Science Director for RASE, Ian Smith stated that the future likelihood of drought posed a challenge for “plant breeders, policy makers and planners as well as farmers.”
“For a long time, water management in the UK has concentrated on getting water off land and into rivers and drains and then into the sea. Perhaps we need to rethink some of these strategies and divert more of that water into storage for later use,” he said.
The report discusses how important it is that farmers recognize that climate change is a reality and that a readily available water supply is likely to be one of the first casualties of this change.
According to a Phys.org article other key messages of the report include:
• Finding ways of reducing demand and focusing production on enterprises which use water more efficiently or move some enterprises to areas where water is more readily available
• identifying the potential to move water from areas where there are fewer requirements to areas with higher demand
• better use of excess winter rainfall and flood water through capture and storage
• feasibility of water re-use and what is acceptable to the consumer
• emphasis in plant breeding programs on drought and water-logging resistance
• revising crop protection policy for new weed, pest and disease pressures
The report also notes that climate change is only one aspect that will influence agricultural behaviour, and that other factors like national and global drivers, political incentives, technological innovations and socio-economic will also play a vital role.
Mr Smith said that the report clearly identifies the importance of water management in the future and will feature strongly as an educational tool at RASE meetings.
Article by Kate R., appearing courtesy Celsias.