Hottest April For 140 Years – The Effects Of Temperature Rise On Farming

The Guardian reported on Friday 27th April that, “This April has been the warmest for more than 140 years.” Although we may be pleased to hear that the weather is warming up, we do need to stop and think about the global implications of climate change. “Dr Debbie Hemming from the Met Office Hadley Centre which undertakes research on the effect of climate change said, ‘The effects of temperature rise are being experienced on a global scale.’”

 So what are the implications and effects of climate change on agriculture and farming?

This article will look at one aspect of climate change – temperature rise and how this has effected our own personal farming situation.

The Effects Of The Dry April On Our Farm

  • Potato crops – There is usually 3-4 weeks between planting seed potatoes and the potato plants emerging. Just before the potato plants do emerge the weeds will have already germinated and it is at this point that the farmer can spray the weeds off. This year however, the lack of rain and the rise in temperature has resulted in a lack of weed seeds germinating. This is not a positive effect because if the weather changes and it rains, more weeds will grow and these weeds will not be able to be sprayed as the potato plants will have already germinated. This would cause a weed infestation in the root crop which could effect the potato crop and yield.
  • Grass silage -The first crop of grass silage does not look healthy because the ground is so dry and there has not been any rain for the grass to grow. Grass silage is fed to cattle so reduced grass silage yield will affect animal feed management and eventually meat production.
  • Winter wheat crop – The Winter wheat crop is suffering and not growing as well as it should because the cereal plant is not getting enough moisture so that the crop is not growing as vigorously as it should. This will affect the wheat yield which will in turn affect the cereal related industries such as the flour, cereals and bread making manufacturers.
  • Oilseed rape crop – The oilseed rape crop has flowered early due to the temperature rise in April. Now the worry is that if there is a late frost the flowers could be destroyed and therefore the seeds would not be produced and the amount of oil would therefore be affected. Oilseed rape farmers in the UK are now needing rain to help the seeds grow and therefore produce a good yield for the manufacture of oil and biodiesel.
  • Cattle – On a positive note the dry warm weather has been good for letting the cattle go out to grass. There has been no poaching of the ground and cattle staggers has not been a threat to the cattle as the conditions are not staggers conditions.

As you can see the temperature rise has had an effect on the agriculture and farming of our small arable and cattle farm. Many of the effects are not always positive so we do need to stop and think about the effects of climate change and how this could and will eventually impact on our lives. 

Click on this link for more information about climate change.