This blog was originally based on a course ran by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin who also wrote a textbook for the module Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. Now working as an independent consultant, Nick continues to work in the area of environmental sustainability and looking at ways of making a difference without recriminations or guilt. Saving the planet is all about living sustainably.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Irish farming and climate change

Irish farming will be affected by climate change but not as severely as more southern countries.  The problems will primarily be the reduction in summer rainfall by up to 25% and an increase in winter rainfall by 17% by mid century, with Southern and Eastern counties most affected.  This will  result in extended dry periods leading to drought, flooding, heavy rainfall events and extreme temperatures, in fact far more unpredictable weather patterns making farming activities difficult to plan and execute.  While this will mainly make tillage farming more difficult from sowing to harvesting of crops, livestock farmers will also feel the pressure from increased stress to animals  and providing water in the summer to ensuring sufficient winter fodder.  The wet summer of 2012 led to a massive fodder crisis in some parts of the country during the winter and spring of 2012/13, leading to massive imports of hay and silage from the UK and Europe. The increased prevalence of pests and diseases ,especially new pests as their ranges increase in response to higher temperatures, will affect all farming sectors.   It is not all negative because the higher temperatures will increase cereal and beet yields, which is in stark comparison to countries such as Romania and Hungary which will see a steep decline in crop yields due to water scarcity.  The solution is for the Irish farming sector  to  increase crop diversity, alter planting and harvesting regimes, develop more climate resilient crops, and to introduce water management strategies.

Nick Gray

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