Farmers’ views sought on draft plan for climate change adaption in agriculture

A public consultation process on a draft plan for climate change adaption in the agriculture and forest industry has been launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

“My Department, its agencies and industry are committed to promoting the long term environmental sustainability of Irish agriculture.

“As well as being an influencing element, the Irish agriculture and forest sector is also reliant on environmental and climatic factors, therefore adapting to changes in climate is crucial for the continued sustainable development of the sector.

“The draft plan is now available on the Department’s website and I invite the public and stakeholders to get involved in this process, and to make their submissions over the coming weeks.”

The deadline for receipt of submissions is Friday, January 27, 2017.

The Department’s agriculture and forest sectoral adaptation plan seeks to identify vulnerabilities and adaptation options to strengthen the resilience of the sector to the changing climate.

Respondents should be aware that the Department is bound by the Freedom of Information legislation and if confidential or commercially sensitive information is included in submissions it should be clearly identified.

The Department also reserves the right to publish the submissions received (subject to the redaction of clearly identified confidential or commercially sensitive information) as part of its response to this consultation.

Draft Adaptation Plan for the Agriculture and Forest Sector

As part of the draft adaption plan for the agriculture and forest sector, a screening exercise was undertaken to identify the wide range of impacts of observed and projected changes in climatic parameters as well as extreme weather events on the agriculture and forest sector.

This analysis was undertaken to identify priority climate changes and impacts for the agriculture and forest sector.

In order to focus the analysis and due to the sheer size of the agriculture and forest sector, three initial areas were chosen; livestock, crop production, forest and an additional overarching area entitled “other”.

Livestock

During the vulnerability assessment the predictions of increases in extreme precipitation, extreme wind speeds, intense storms and storm surges were highlighted as potentially having a high impact on the livestock sector.

It was reasoned that changes to these climate parameters could lead to:

  • Increased compliance difficulties with the EU Nitrates Directive especially regarding slurry storage and land spreading.
  • Infrastructure damage and the associated reparatory costs could also increase.
  • The level of surface run-off of nutrients may possibly intensify.

Medium priority observations included:

  • Diseases.
  • Changes to grazing season and protocols.
  • Decreased trafficability and increased land poaching.
  • Difficult harvesting conditions and reduced harvesting windows.
  • Increased meal/silage requirements.

Crop Production

Increases in extreme precipitation, extreme wind speeds, intense storms and storm surges were highlighted as potentially having a medium impact on the crop production sector. No high priority observations were reported.

These observations included impacts on the timing of field operations, issues caused by delayed harvesting and crop suitability.

Decreased frost losses and exposure of groundwater to pesticides were other medium priority observations.

Forest

Meanwhile, looking at the draft adaption plan for the forest sector, several high priority observations were identified:

  • Windthrow.
  • Infrastructure damage.
  • Health and safety issues.

Medium priority observations under forestry included an increase in frost susceptibility due to early or late growth and increased risk of uncontrolled fires.

Farmers and stakeholders can look at the Draft Adaptation Plan for the Agriculture and Forest Sector in full on the Department’s website.

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