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An overview of Climate Change - Alan Hopkins (GES Consulting)

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This presentation was given as part of the Farming Futures workshop "Focus on: Renewables in the North-West". …

This presentation was given as part of the Farming Futures workshop "Focus on: Renewables in the North-West".

(11th December 2008)

Published in: Technology

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  • 1. An Overview of Climate Change Alan Hopkins (GES Consulting)
  • 2. Outline of talk Climate change and greenhouse gases: evidence of recent trends in climate change and anticipated future trends. Possible effects on agriculture and land use: how resilient are we?
  • 3. Adaptations and possible measures to reduce climate change Risks and uncertainties – need to plan ahead and act now Opportunities for UK farms and rural businesses
  • 4. • Climate change and global warming • The “Greenhouse effect” • Greenhouse gases • Climate change “scenarios” • Adaptations and mitigations
  • 5. Greenhouse gases 100-yr GWP Concentrations now (and 200 years ago) ………………………………..……….. • CO2 1 374 ppm (280) • Methane 23 1745 ppb (700) • Nitrous oxide 300 314 ppb (270) • CFCs 4000 268 ppt (zero)
  • 6. Agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in UK • 1% of carbon dioxide (fuels and fertilisers). • > 30% of methane (enteric fermentation / manure management; mainly cattle /sheep) • > 60% nitrous oxide (soils and fertilisers). • 7% direct greenhouse gas emissions in UK • UK agriculture part of the problem but is part of the solution
  • 7. Anticipated 21st century climate change impacts • Annual rainfall similar to past, but more wetter winters and summer droughts . • Continuing trend of higher average temperatures (1-5o C higher). • Regional variations: warming greatest in SE. • More variability in winds, storms and droughts. • Internationally: impacts greater in other parts of Europe and some feed exporting areas. • …specifically in the NW
  • 8. Likely climate change impacts and adaptations for different sectors • How resilient are the various sectors of UK farming ? • What responses can farmers make to climate change ? • What are the international impacts ?
  • 9. 1). Forage production and ruminant livestock: risks and opportunities • Changes in rainfall will affect grazing, summer feed and timing of field operations. • Higher temperatures and CO2 can lead to increased forage growth. • New opportunities (legumes, maize, whole- crop) and some on-farm potential for energy cropping and AD. • But: heat stress, increased winter wind speed, and risks from more extreme events require management responses.
  • 10. 1). Forage production and ruminant livestock • Changes in rainfall will affect grazing, summer feed and timing of field operations. • Higher temps and CO2 increase forage growth. • New opportunities (legumes, maize, whole-crop) and some on-farm potential for energy cropping and AD. • But: heat stress, increased winter wind speed, and risks from more extreme events require management responses. • Overall: UK dairy, beef and sheep have good potential to adapt to effects of future climate change compared with some competitors.
  • 11. 2) UK arable cropping systems: risks and opportunities • Warmer, drier summers: increased drought stress (especially for root crops) and earlier maturation. • Risks of damage from increased storminess (standing crops, farm buildings). • Wetter winters and storms: establishment of winter- sown crops and fields ops in general; soil erosion and nutrient losses. Flooding and coastal losses. • New pests and diseases and earlier attacks.
  • 12. UK arable cropping systems: potential for responses and adaptations • New crops and varieties. • Precision Conservation Management. • Risk management (e.g. mix of crops, managing water supplies; flood, storm and drought plans) and need to maintain soil structure and carbon. • Biomass planting and carbon sequestration. • Overall: UK arable farms have potential to adapt to effects of future climate change. Major concerns of coastal land and flood plains and of soils with poor structure and low organic matter.
  • 13. Likely future pressures for farmers to mitigate impacts of climate change: what are the options ? • Improved management of manures, fertiliser, soil and water to conserve water supplies, protect soil quality and reduce net gaseous emissions. • Increase carbon sequestration in soils, grass and other farmland vegetation (possibly with future carbon emissions trading). • Renewable energy crops to displace fossil fuels and at same time remove GHGs from atmosphere. • Many low-cost options can be implemented now.
  • 14. Management to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions: CO2 • Energy plan to improve energy efficiency on the farm, per unit of output. • Maximize returns of manure and carbon to improve soil organic matter. • On mixed farms maintain existing permanent pasture, and incorporate forage leys and reduced tillage where possible. • Optimise nutrient N inputs for feed crops aiming to minimise mineral N fertiliser use. • Consider potential for biomass or biofuel crops, or of trees, hedges, scrub etc on any unproductive sites, ground-source heat.
  • 15. Management to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions: methane • Reduce emissions from manure through better management (oxygen supply/ covers) • Consider using manure in anaerobic digestion as energy source – potentially very important in future. • Diet change (cattle, reduce emissions from enteric fermentation through diet change, rumen manipulation, or systematic changes) incentives needed here.
  • 16. Management to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions: nitrous oxide • Improving fertilizer efficiency, especially of nitrates. • Optimizing methods and timing of applications. • Avoid bare ground after crops (use cover crops to catch residual N). • For cattle grazing: minimizing the grazing period allows more control of manure.
  • 17. New farm-scale opportunities? • UK more resilient than some other areas, so global effects on world agriculture could benefit UK farmers. • Some benefits from climate change from milder “average” climate and increased CO2. • New crops, including biofuels and industrial crops, and longer growing season in some areas. • Climate Change Levy Rebate. • Legumes to offset artificial N inputs (£ savings). • Carbon trading for C storage in soils • On-farm energy production. • Reduce methane emissions from livestock manures through anaerobic digestion.
  • 18. Conclusions • Convergence of food economy and energy economy, plus wider environmental goals → need for integrated approaches. Global effects on world agriculture, and energy security issues will benefit UK farmers. • Potential for increased yields of crops and forages, but regional problems of droughts and coastal areas and flood plains vulnerable. • Uncertainties remain. Consensus that we plan to adapt to anticipated change and to mitigate the probable causes (GHGs) at the farm scale. • Plan for uncertainties through more home produced feeds, mix of crops and harvest / sowing times. Multi- purpose land use and on-farm energy production. .

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