EU urges farmers to adapt on climate

Europe’s farmers must consider how to adapt to climate change in the decades ahead, when global warming may significantly affect their livelihoods, Reuters reported a draft European Commission paper as saying. Farmers would need to alter their practices, the paper said, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, make agriculture more resilient and keep land in use.


According to the commission — the European Union’s executive body — the varied effects of climate change were likely to widen regional differences across EU farmland and increase economic disparities between rural areas. “In the long run,” the paper said, “climatic pressures may lead to further marginalisation of agriculture or even to the abandonment of agricultural land in parts of the EU. This would significantly affect landscapes and biodiversity and influence the overall development of European regions.”


Agriculture is a significant source of nitrous oxide and methane emissions, which contribute to global warming but could be mitigated if farmers focused on renewable energies and bio-products, as well as on storing carbon in arable soils.


The paper suggested, for example, that farmers look at soil and tillage practices that help maintain and increase organic carbon in soils. Organic farming was likely to be more resilient to climate change because of its efficient nutrient cycles and soil management, and tendency to promote higher biodiversity.


Shorter-term technical solutions might include protecting orchards from frost damage, improving cooling systems in animal shelters and changing planting dates and crop selection for better adaptation to growing-season lengths.


But in the longer term, the paper said, vulnerable areas could be identified at a national level, irrigation plans developed, and support increased for farming research and experimental production. All of this would need great financial support, said the paper.


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