Adapting farming to climate change?

We can limit warming by reducing emissions and capturing CO2 [1]. This will reduce the harm climate change has on farming [1]. However, climate change will still have devastating effects on food production if we don’t also ADAPT our farming methods [1].

Here are a few things we can do:

Choose DIFFERENT CROPS, which can naturally cope better with the changing climate [1,2]. Depending on the place, they will need to be more resistant to heat shock, drought, flooding, disease, or salty soil [1]. Despite being controversial, genetic engineering is really useful for making plants that can cope with climate change [9,10,11].

More careful use of WATER [1,2]. This can mean storing water from the winter [3] or using “precision agriculture” to water individual plants based on their need [1,4,12].

INTEGRATED farming – i.e. farming lots of different things at once in the same place [1,2]. This means that if one thing fails, the farmer does not lose all their income or food [1]. There are other benefits too – let’s look at an example:

SILVOPASTORAL SYSTEMS: grazing cattle or sheep underneath trees gives farmers extra income from timber, keeps the animals cool, and is better for wildlife [6,7]. Raising FISH in RICE paddy fields provides a source of carbohydrate (rice) and protein (fish) from the same land [8]. Moreover, the fish protect the rice crop by controlling spread of weeds, snails, insect pests, and diseases [1,8]!

We should also adapt how we harvest wild resources: we need to catch FEWER FISH to allow fish populations to recover and give them a chance to cope with changing water temperatures – otherwise there may be even fewer fish left to catch [1,5].

We have to change the way we make food [1]. Sometimes this involves brand new things like genetically modified crops, whilst often the solutions already exist, they just need to be done more often [1]!


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