A Way Forward: Navigating Climate Change Challenges in Agriculture for a Sustainable Future

By Prof. Chris Stoate, Allerton Project Head of Research

Farming With The EnvironmentThe climate change talks in Dubai are once again compromised by vested interests countering proposals to secure a sustainable future for our planet and its residents. That is shocking, only because of the existential global ramifications of a failure to implement those proposals.

We all have vested interests. Sometimes they can be a driver for good. There are some opportunities to be realised through adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, but we need to accept that there are sacrifices too, and individuals vary in their willingness to embrace this for the greater good.

In the final chapter of Farming with the Environment, I explore related issues from an agri-environmental perspective. We know from our own experience at and around the Allerton Project’s own farm that farmers are suffering the consequences of climate change through summer drought, winter storms and waterlogged soils. As well as reducing national food production, there are substantial implications for farm businesses.

Farmers recognise the need to adapt to a changing climate to stay in business, but additional to this is the need to contribute to mitigation of global climate change, and to adaptation measures that have societal benefits beyond the farm boundary. The trade-offs between climate change adaptation and mitigation, and between private and public benefits, are complicated, but we need to understand them in order to encourage and fund the appropriate necessary action. The mechanisms for paying farmers for these multiple activities are evolving but are still very uncertain.

Nature recovery is a key part of this equation, including life in water, and on and in the land. In developing plans for future land management we need to consider the trade-offs and synergies between our multiple demands on agricultural land. We all have different perspectives on this, depending on our personal values, cultural and economic circumstances, and where we happen to live, but ultimately, locally and globally, we are all dependent on the health of the same environment. There is no escaping the physics of climate change.

Over the past 30 years, Allerton Project research has made a valuable contribution to understanding these complicated but fundamentally important issues. There’s still a long way to go, but we have laid down some foundations, not just for future research, but for national policy, and practical management on farm.


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