Adapting to increased storminess
While gales and storms are a common occurrence over winter months in Scotland, it is projected that by 2080 the intensity of storms will increase, with some models also projecting an increased frequency. While there is uncertainty in some of the models, history shows us the damage that extreme weather events can cause. The Great Storm of October 1987 caused significant devastation across the UK; high gusts of winds of up to 100 mph resulted in infrastructure damage with trees falling on roads and bringing down utility lines. Thunderstorms can bring severe damage to properties, hailstones can damage roofs and tiles, dent vehicles, damage glasshouse and bring down vegetation. Strong winds can cause mechanical damage to crops, which will affect growth, yields and pest and disease incidence. Increased susceptibility to disease affects harvest quality, and crop may not meet the requirements of its intended market. While plants can adapt and be resilient to high winds, plant specific issues may still occur. Examples of this include, leaf stripping, folding, abrasion and sandblasting.
The UK Met Office Storm Centre names and dates storms that impact the UK and provides updates on storms, which are forecasted and monitors storminess. The Met Office reported that over a three month period, between mid-December 2013 and mid-February 2014, there were 12 major storm events making this the stormiest period the UK has seen in 20 years. Since then the UK has experienced numerous storms of comparable or more severe intensities, causing widespread disruption.
Download the adaptation checklist to see what additional actions you may want to consider to improve your farms resilience to increased storminess.
Health & Safety
Storms, strong winds and high rainfall put staff and livestock health and safety at risk.
Falling trees can block roads, damage fences and hedges and bring down utility lines as well as damage nearby buildings or vehicles.
High winds, heavy rain and hailstones can damage buildings, utilities, roads and other farm structures.
Flooding of Coastal Areas
Storm surges and rising sea levels are likely to increase flooding low-lying fields resulting in crop loss and soil damage.
Crop & Soil Damage
High winds and heavy rainfall can reduce crop yields due to stem and tissue damage, increased disease incidence and soil erosion.
What can you do now to help future proof the business?
The increase in frequency and intensity of storm events will put more pressure on agricultural businesses. It is vital your farm business is prepared for all potential impacts. Keeping your steading, access roads and livestock paths clear and maintained and regularly checking weather forecasts are just some of the actions that can be taken to mitigate future losses due to storms. Carry out tree assessment surveys on a regular basis to identify and prune/remove problem trees prior to storms occurring.
This document provides a climate change adaptation checklist for your business so that various climate change adaptation measures can be considered. This will help you determine the most suitable and effective methods for improving resilience to climate change on your farm. Additionally, the topics examined throughout this document will provide suggestions and ideas that can aid in the development of an Emergency Action Plan for your business.