Field in Navarra, Spain. Yields might halve by 2050. Photo: © vicenfoto / Shutterstock.com
Climate change threat to European farming
Yields from non-irrigated crops, such as wheat, corn and sugar beet, are projected to decrease in southern Europe by up to 50 per cent by 2050, according to scenarios in a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). The report notes that it will have major effects on farmers’ income and land prices in the region. However, it is not believed that this is enough to threaten food security in the European Union, though food prices are likely to rise in the coming decades.
Although the EU has an overall adaptation strategy, the EEA sees flaws in farm-level implementation. The report stresses that more knowledge, innovation and awareness raising are required to improve the effective use of the already available adaptation measures, like introducing adapted crops, improved irrigation techniques, field margins and agroforestry, crop diversification or precision farming. These practices should also lead to lower greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, better management of soil, land and water resources, which in turn will help preserve local ecosystems and biodiversity.
The report also emphasises the need for the farming sector to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions. Measures highlighted are improvements in fertiliser use, in manure handling efficiencies and in animal productivity through breeding, as well as changes in consumer behaviour, like eating less meat and reducing food waste.
Report Climate Change Adaption in the Agricultural Sector in Europe https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/cc-adaptation-agriculture