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Changes ahead for region’s coastal farmers

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under News & Business

COASTAL must adapt their businesses to meet the impact of climate change, suggests new research.

Growers and livestock producers will face warmer, drier summers, with higher winter rainfall, according to a study undertaken for the Future Landscapes project by Cranfield University.

The overall impact on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be a drier landscape, with “significant impacts on both rain-fed and irrigated crop production.”

The findings have important implications as coastal Suffolk is a key growing area for crops such as carrots, potatoes and onions, which rely on a dependable supply of water.

The Future Landscapes project is being delivered by NFU East Anglia on behalf of Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB. Farmers will be able to discuss possible ways that they can adapt their businesses at a series of workshops starting in March.

NFU countryside adviser Alex Dinsdale said: “We are already starting to see some unusual weather patterns and this research suggests they are likely to become more extreme, and potentially more frequent.

“The next stage of the project will be to discuss the potential impacts with farmers and growers and to look at how farm businesses can adapt to meet these future challenges.”

Cranfield University researchers applied climatology from the 2009 UK Climate Impacts Programme to identify some of the key impacts for the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB that climate change will bring.

They forecast a 7-10% drop in summer rainfall and 2°C rise in summer temperatures by 2030. Meanwhile, a gradual increase will see sea levels around the Suffolk coast rising from 20-40cm by 2100.

AONB project officer Neil Lister said: “This research is a helpful step forward towards understanding the impacts of climate change on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB’s farmed landscape, where water resources are at a premium.

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