Climate change presents both challenges and opportunities for agriculture and land management.
Agriculture and wider land management will have to adapt to climate change. Current projections suggest that by the 2080s Scotland will be warmer, especially in summer, with wetter winters, and that we will be subject to a higher number of extreme events. This will have both beneficial and negative impacts on agriculture in Scotland. But in the global context, Scotland is likely to be relatively less affected.
It is the poorest regions of the world—those areas with the highest levels of chronic hunger—that are likely to be worst affected. Arid areas could become unviable for productive agriculture, reducing the total productive capacity and contributing to issues of food security. It will therefore be incumbent on those countries less affected by climate change—such as Scotland—to produce food to feed the world’s population.
But we must also recognise that while we will have to increase production, we will also have to reduce emissions from agriculture. Agriculture is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions so agriculture will have an important role to play in reducing emissions. In Scotland there have been significant reductions in emissions from agriculture in recent years, but further reductions will be expected. But this should not necessarily be seen as a burden because recent work by SAC suggests that there is much that can be done to reduce emissions whilst saving money.
Scottish Land & Estates supports the Scottish Government’s ‘Farming for a Better Climate’
initiative and takes part in the Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Climate Change Stakeholder Group.
As part of Farming for a Better Climate, the Scottish Government has looked at a number of practical measures that can be implemented on farm to reduce greenhouse gas emissions., ensuring that resources used in farm businesses are put to the best possible use, and has identified 5 key action areas based on the following principles:
- Taking the most cost effective steps first
- Minimising waste
- Developing new business opportunities where these could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The 5 Key Action Areas are:
- Using energy and fuels efficiently
- Developing renewable energy
- Locking carbon into the soil and vegetation
- Optimising the application of fertiliser and manures
- Optimising livestock management and storage of waste