Helping Farmers Adapt to Climate Change
Over the last century Scotland’s climate has changed significantly. Summers have become hotter and drier; winters milder and wetter and heavy rainfall events have increased in frequency. To top this off extreme weather events have become less predictable but far more intense. These changes are having a number of impacts on Scottish agriculture in areas such as productivity, soil quality, pests and diseases, water availability and quality, and flooding.
Some parts of Scotland's agricultural sector are expected to experience some positive changes, however, in most cases these are largely outweighed by the negative impacts. Some of the risks and opportunities of these changes include:
- Warmer summers and milder winters may increase agricultural productivity in areas of Scotland.
- However, more variable and extreme weather and the spread of pests and diseases will limit potential.
- Rainfall patterns and increased temperatures will affect the quality of our soil.
- Climate changes will create conditions for new non -native pests, diseases and plant species to thrive.
- Current pest, disease and invasive plant cases may increase in prevalence too.
- Change in rainfall patterns may increase the competition for water between different users.
- Summer droughts are predicted to become more frequent and severe.
- More heavy downpours increase the flood risk, impacting infrastructure, animals and farmland.
What is Adaptation?
Adaptation already plays an integral part in the daily routines of farming businesses. However, adaptation is a continuous process and as the effects of climate change continue to alter Scotland’s climate it is imperative that farm businesses actively consider the various adaptation options available to them to minimise negative impacts, increase resilience and where possible take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.
Climate change adaptation consists of two main aspects: adapting to current changes in climate and weather and adapting to future projected changes in climate. By taking these into consideration you can begin to formulate a plan for increasing your farm's resilience. Unfortunately, as with most aspects of farming there is no "one shoe fits all" solution. Aspects such as location, topography and crop, soil and livestock type will all influence the adaptation methods that will benefit your business.
Identifying adaptation options that can be implemented effectively into your business is the first step in ensuring resilience against current and future risks. There is a range of resources that have been developed to help support people in the agricultural sector looking to introduce further adaptation techniques to their business.
Scottish Government funded programme that provides advice and support to help Scottish businesses and communities be prepared and resilient to the effects of climate change.
European Environment Agency (EEA) – Climate-ADAPT
Partnership between European Commission and European Environmental Agency (EEA). Developed to support Europe in adapting to climate change. Offers information on adaptation option, case studies, guidance information, statistics, publications etc.
Farming For a Better Climate
Scottish Government funded programme that provides practical support to benefit the farm and help reduce the impact of climate change. Offers a range of additional resources and guides catered to climate change adaptation.
Scottish Government – Climate Ready Scotland: Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019-2024
Scottish Governments five-year programme to prepare the country for the challenges of climate change. Outlines Scotland’s Adaptation goals and progress to meeting them.
Doing a SWOT analysis is one way that you can identify your businesses Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats from climate change impacts. Once these have been identified suitable adaptation methods that play to your strengths, use opportunities, reduce weaknesses and counter threats can be developed.
|What do you already do well?||What assets and resources are you missing or need more of?|
|What assets and resources do you have?||What are your main disadvantages?|
|What do you do that no one else does?||What limits the growth of your business?|
|What sustainability, adaptation and mitigations measures do you have in place?||What impacts are you already experiencing?|
|What areas of your business could benefit from climate change?||What are the main environmental risks?|
|Are there new markets you could access?||How will customer attitudes change?|
|Can you develop new products or services?||What new or proposed regulations are coming in?|
|Is now the time to diversify the business?||Is the market undergoing any changes?|
To learn more about climate adaptation techniques for Livestock, crops and soils, as well as links to further resources that can support your farms adaptation, see the pages below.
Sign up to the FAS newsletter
Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service