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Under climate change, a trend towards wetter winters, and drier, hotter summers has been predicted. In reality we are beginning to see more variability in our weather patterns, with more extreme weather events.

Its easy to be sceptical about long-term projections of climate change as it can feel like they are confusing or lacking consistency and clarity. However, more farmers are finding that previously accepted weather windows for work are becoming shorter and more unpredictable. In February 2010, a survey carried out by Farming Futures suggested that 38% of all farmers surveyed said they were already affected by climate change and nearly 60% expect to be affected in the next ten years.

Both at home and overseas, agricultural production could be at risk; for example, excessive heat affecting both crop and livestock production or high rainfall or flooding preventing access to land at key times such as at planting or harvest. At home we are already seeing the effects of milder, wetter winters failing to reduce the numbers of some pests such as liver fluke in cattle and sheep.

Is your land flooding more frequently, are you at risk from being cut off by snow or power failures following windstorms? It’s worth considering how your business could be affected and looking at additional steps you could take to reduce risks.


Extreme Weather Events


  • How vulnerable is your farm to flooding?
  • Do you have areas you can move stock/machinery to if at risk of being caught in flood waters?
  • Is farm drainage working adequately; are floodplains maintained?
  • Do you have need or access to a back up power supply?
  • High Winds and Increased Storminess

  • Are farm building roofs secure?
  • Are bales stacked securely?
  • Are there any trees that could cause damage to buildings or property around the steading?
  • Do you have need or access to a back up power supply?
  • Drought and Heat Waves

  • Do you have the facilities to store water on the farm?
  • Do you have access to an additional water source for irrigation or livestock watering if required?
  • Do livestock need additional shade and water?
  • Are livestock buildings adequately ventilated?
  • Prolonged Sub-zero Temperatures and Heavy Snowfall

  • Do you have access routes to check livestock/deliver food and water?
  • Are building roofs at risk of collapse through snow weight?
  • Are pipes adequately lagged to prevent freezing?
  • Can livestock get access to drinking water?
  • Do you have enough capacity to store slurry while snow is on the ground?