A new study by the Met Office gives examples of how two of the UK’s most important farming sectors are likely to be impacted by climate change. The study examines the effect of climate change on the dairy and potato farming sectors over the next thirty to fifty years.
The research found that heat stress in dairy cattle is projected to increase significantly in key dairy regions of the UK, particularly South Western England.
The UK region with the largest herd of dairy cattle is the South West, where there are around 750,000 dairy cattle (according to the latest figures from Defra). The study shows that heat stress conditions are met around two-to-three days per year, but in the period 2051-2070, this could extend to around one month per year on average.
The study is based on a climate projection known as RCP 8.5: a high emissions future. The pathway is credible as mitigation efforts to achieve the more drastic [cuts in] greenhouse gas emissions representative of other pathways can’t be guaranteed. The report’s author said: “Given the potentially serious consequences for UK farming, we felt it was appropriate to work with a high impact scenario. Even under lower emission pathways, we know that our climate will continue to change so even if the impacts are smaller than identified in this study, our study provides useful information for adaptation planning.”
You can read the full paper here.