Scorching summers and winter floods are on the way as climate change becomes reality

The Department of Agriculture has launched its Climate Change Adaptation Plan public consultation process. Photo: Stock image
The Department of Agriculture has launched its Climate Change Adaptation Plan public consultation process. Photo: Stock image
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

More planning is required to deal with extreme weather at farm level as summer temperatures are projected to increase by 40pc by 2050, according to Met Eireann's head of climatology Seamus Walsh.

Mr Walsh said there is a predicted 50 to 55-day increase in the length of the growing season by 2050 due to increased temperatures, and that summers will be 25pc drier.

However, he added that it won't be straightforward as this will be combined with increased winter rainfall.

"Even though temperatures might be warm enough to allow growth to occur, at the end of winter it could be that the ground might be waterlogged because there's more rainfall in winter or dry in the summer because there is more drought conditions," said Mr Walsh.

"Extreme weather will increase annually for winter, which will give rise to greater flooding.

"These type of things and more weather extremes might mitigate against having a good supply of grass for the growing season and allow for more droughts, which can cause plant stress and difficulties in winter slurry storage and spreading difficulties due to increased rain.

"Increased heat stress on plants and crops could also be a problem."

Mr Walsh said that spring has occurred about three weeks earlier over the last 20 years, which can also affect biodiversity rates.

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Climate plan

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has launched its Climate Change Adaptation Plan public consultation process.

Chief inspector Bill Callanan said that the public consultation will be open for seven weeks until August 16 and that all opinions are welcome.

The consultation will inform the Department's finalised Climate Adaptation Plan, which it will send to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment in September.

"We are at the forefront dealing with the issues of climate change, we are really exposed," said Mr Callanan.

"We want to ensure a joined-up approach raising awareness to adapt to climate change and reducing our vulnerability.

"It's about what can we do to avoid the greatest impact but also embedding planning within the process."

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