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Under the weather?

By Rebecca Audsley, Principal Consultant, SAC Consulting

We regularly hear how we have seen our wettest, coldest or hottest days, months and years since records began, and how this is rapidly becoming a feature of our changing climate which we will all need to adapt to.  These unseasonable weather events and weather extremes can add another level of complexity and disruption to routine farm activities.

Many farmers and land managers are already building resilience into their system and increasing the diversity across the business to spread risk.  Practical actions, such as improving ventilation in livestock sheds can help animals better cope with heat stress, reduce disease risks and improve profitability.  Reinstating hedges or shelterbelts can provide shelter and shade for livestock, crops and buildings, whilst also slowing wind or water action leading to erosion and flooding risk.  Additional planting can also provide a range of food, shelter and habitats across the farm for insects and wildlife, supporting biodiversity as well as the farm business. But how many of us would say that these actions are driven partly, or fully, in response to a changing climate?

Understanding the various risks posed to your business from a range of extreme or prolonged weather events, and what the potential impacts might be, could help you consider practical measures.  The Climate Change Adaptation For Agriculture – Is your farm ready? booklet gives practical pointers and checklists that could suggest ways to help you minimise risk and disruption, prioritise actions and increase business resilience.

With our weather taking a more unpredictable turn, time spent reviewing risks and opportunities now, could pay dividends in the future.   Why wait for a rainy day?

This article from Farming for a Better Climate was first published in the Farming Scotland Magazine in April 2022.

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