How climate change is driving change on farms across the country

How climate change is driving change on farms across the country

Climate change is very real and it is likely to have very real implications for farmers, the crops that they grow and the future of agriculture in the UK.

There is a plethora of data available through the Met Office which serves to confirm what many of us are already experiencing, particularly in terms of the increasing incidence of extreme weather. Hot summers are increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception. Heatwaves are likely to become more intense and more frequent. Heavy rainfall events will probably extend in future from the spring through to the autumn. And winters are projected to become warmer and wetter. We are already seeing signs of these changes.

The forecast is for more heat and more rain

Few farmers will forget the prolonged drought of 2018 which made growing conditions difficult and left many with severe shortages of fodder for livestock, while last year’s disastrously wet autumn left thousands upon thousands of arable acres completely saturated and in many cases submerged under water from the relentless rainfall. Crops were at best delayed and at worst, damaged or completely destroyed. And, of course, at the back end of last winter, farmers endured the wettest February on record, with the result that this year’s wheat harvest is expected to be confirmed as one of the worst for more than thirty years.

This Met Office press release makes interesting reading. Amongst other things, it states that 2019 was the 12th warmest year in a series from 1884. We saw new high temperature records set including  an all-time record temperature of 38.7°C recorded on 25 July in Cambridgeshire, and new record highs for December and February. Meanwhile, above average rainfall was recorded across most of the UK with Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Cheshire receiving between a quarter to one third more rainfall than normal. One fact of particular note is that, since 2009, the UK has now had its wettest February, April, June, November and December on record – five out of 12 months.

The more changeable and unpredictable our weather becomes, the more adaptable our farming methods have to be.

How agriculture is responding to climate change

Many farmers are already reviewing their crop rotations in favour of more spring crops and exploring the viability of growing different crops such as maize and even soya beans, both hitherto representing only a tiny percentage of crops grown throughout the country.

Improving drainage and managing the soil will become even more important considerations. The challenge for farmers will be how they can achieve soils that can store more water so as to be more resilient in times of drought, whilst avoiding or reducing problems associated with soil compaction such as rainwater run-off and restricted root development.

As our changing weather patterns continue to drive changes in our ground and growing conditions, adapting farm machinery is another strategy in the farmers’ toolbox. An increasing number of farmers and contractors are, for example, exploring the benefits of introducing rubber track systems on heavy, field-going machinery such as tractors, combines and other harvesters. Tracks can often enable farmers to continue planting and harvesting operations in adverse conditions that might otherwise prevent wheeled vehicles getting on to the field, whilst minimising damage to their soils.

In addition, Zuidberg rubber tracks offer the versatility of switching between tracks and tyres to suit the task at hand. Zuidberg tracks are compact and can be easily exchanged, making them deployable on small and large machines alike. In most cases, this is a job that can be done on farm in the workshop. Assuming you have the appropriate lifting equipment and tools, as well as the relevant basic engineering skills and experience. it takes two people between three and four hours on average to install the tracks under the tractor. The installation is totally reversible, leaving the tractor suitable for the re-fitting of pneumatic tyres whenever the need arises.

Another problem bites the dust

Prolonged drought in the summer months can bring different challenges for farm machinery operators. For example, dust and dirt can quickly clog up the radiators and intake screens of tractors, combines, telehandlers, self-propelled sprayers, potato and beet harvesters. This can lead to reduced efficiency, overheated fluids in engine, gearbox and hydraulic systems and significantly reduced air-conditioning performance, not to mention increased fuel consumption.

Flexxaire reversing cooling fans offer an excellent solution. Relatively easy to install, they not only ensure optimum cooling efficiency, they also solve the problem of dirty, clogged-up radiators, restoring full power and saving fuel. All at the touch of a button.

Change is not only happening now, the pace is increasing all the time. Agriculture needs to be ahead of the game and that means planning ahead and preparing for whatever the climate future throws at us.

Lynx engineering -

All Loaded up and on her way home. We had a great time at the Ripon Farm Services Show with many reminiscing stories and plenty of compliments about our 6800 and attachments. It makes all of those long hours from the team restoring her worthwhile.  

Lynx engineering - @Lynxengineering

We had a great time at the Ripon Farm Services Show, with many reminiscing stories and plenty of compliments about our 6800 and attachments. The main question is, where to go next for the 6800?