Dramatic changes needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change

Dramatic changes needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change
Rural flooding in the North of England, UK. Credit: Phil Haygarth

Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change, according to research published by a Lancaster University-led team.

To combat repeated, damaging storm events, which strip agricultural land of soil and nutrients, farmers are already adopting measures to conserve these assets where they are needed.

But in a new paper in the journal Nature Communications, researchers investigating nutrients in runoff from agricultural land warn that phosphorus losses will increase, due to climate change, unless this is mitigated by making major changes to .

These changes could include a more judicious use of fertilizer including strategies to use soil phosphorus more efficiently, or physical measures to reduce the losses of nutrients from fields.

Professor Phil Haygarth of the Lancaster Environment Centre led the three-year, Natural Environment Research Council and DEFRA funded study.

He said: "The warmer, wetter winters predicted for the future will result in more phosphorus transferred from into the rivers and ultimately the oceans. Although farmers are already doing what they can to prevent these losses, the currently adopted measures are not likely to be enough to offset the increase expected under climate change.

Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change, according to research published by a Lancaster University-led team. Credit: Lancaster University

"This paper should alert policy makers and government to the help and support that farmers will need to achieve the scale of agricultural change that may be necessary to keep up with the increase in pollution due to ."

Nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen are essential to crop and animal growth, but too many nutrients cause algal blooms in rivers and lakes. These suffocate fish and other organisms and require costly remediation by water supply companies.

Fertilisers and manures washed off in storms are a major source of nutrients, with more than 60 per cent of the nitrogen and 25 per cent of the phosphorus in our rivers coming from agriculture.

The research in the paper combined the latest climate predictions from the Met Office Hadley Centre, including a high resolution climate model for the UK, with two phosphorus transfer models of different complexity. The predictions incorporated both the uncertainty in the data and the natural inter-annual variability in climate.

Dr Pete Falloon of the Met Office Hadley Centre, who led the climate modelling, said "State-of-the-art high resolution climate models were used in this project alongside the latest UKCP09 climate projections. While rainfall intensity was more realistically predicted by the high-resolution models, particularly for summer convective storms, these storms do not make a significant difference to summer losses. Our study therefore showed that the main factor driving increased future was the projected increase in winter rainfall."


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More information: M. C. Ockenden et al, Major agricultural changes required to mitigate phosphorus losses under climate change, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00232-0
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: Dramatic changes needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change (2017, August 3) retrieved 17 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-08-farming-pace-climate.html
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Aug 03, 2017
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Aug 03, 2017
Rainfall will definitely do that. Sounds like what happened at the end of the Medieval Warm Period, except temperatures were declining.

Aug 03, 2017
German scientists offer bold claim that climate change is super changey (emphasis added).

The Sun as climate driver is repeatedly discussed in the literature but proofs are often weak. In order to elucidate the solar influence, we have used a large number of temperature proxies worldwide to construct a global temperature mean G7 over the last 2000 years. The Fourier spectrum of G7 shows the strongest components as ~1000-, ~460-, and ~190 - year periods whereas other cycles of the individual proxies are considerably weaker. The G7 temperature extrema coincide with the Roman, medieval, and present optima as well as the well-known minimum of AD 1450 during the Little Ice Age. We note that the temperature increase of the late 19th and 20th century is represented by the harmonic temperature representation, and thus is of pure multiperiodic nature. It can be expected that the periodicity of G7, lasting 2000 years so far, will persist also for the foreseeable future.

Aug 03, 2017
part duex

It predicts a temperature drop from present to AD 2050, a slight rise from 2050 to 2130, and a further drop from AD 2130 to 2200. -- The global warming policy forum. GWPF Newsletter August 3, 2017

Whaddya know-we anti-science rubes have been right all along.

https://pjmedia.c...-211708/

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