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Climate change to put farming sectors under stress

March 21, 2021

By Paul Homewood


The latest climate boogeyman from the Met Office propaganda department:




A new study by the Met Office gives examples of how two of the UK’s most important farming sectors are likely to be impacted by climate change.

The study – published in Climate Risk Management – examines the effect of climate change on the dairy and potato farming sectors over the next thirty to fifty years.

The research found that heat stress in dairy cattle is projected to increase significantly in key dairy regions of the UK, particularly South Western England. The study also covered the climate change impacts on the potato sector due to late blight, a disease affecting potato crops which occurs in warm, humid weather.

Dr Freya Garry is the author of the study. She said: “Projections show potential for major climate change impacts on UK farming. Our study found that future dairy cattle in parts of the South East may be exposed to heat stress for an extra two months per year. At the moment, cattle in the South East experience around a week per year of these stressful conditions.”

The UK region with the largest herd of dairy cattle is the South West, where there are around 750,000 dairy cattle (according to the latest figures from Defra). The study shows that heat stress conditions are met around two-to-three days per year, but in the period 2051-2070, this could extend to around one month per year on average.

The study is based on a climate projection known as RCP 8.5: a high emissions future. The pathway is credible as mitigation efforts to achieve the more drastic greenhouse gas emissions representative of other pathways can’t be guaranteed. Dr Garry added: “Given the potentially serious consequences for UK farming, we felt it was appropriate to work with a high impact scenario. Even under lower emission pathways, we know that our climate will continue to change so even if the impacts are smaller than identified in this study, our study provides useful information for adaptation planning.”

In the future climate of 30-50 years’ time, late blight (a disease affecting potato crops which occurs in warm, humid weather) is likely to occur more often across the UK, with the greatest increases in western and northern regions. In east Scotland, a region which currently has a high concentration of potato farming, potato blight may occur around 70 % more often. Most potatoes are grown in the east of the UK, where potato blight occurs less often, and so there are likely to be smaller increases of 20-30 % in key regions for potato growing in England compared to today.

Both food for cattle, crops for humans, and potato growing will all be threatened by increased drought in the future, which we tend to experience when we have particularly hot dry summers, such as 2018. Last year, another group of scientists from the Met Office demonstrated that the summer temperatures of 2018 may occur every one in two years by the middle of the century. In this work, the scientists also look at how often we are likely to see both hot and dry months during summers through the twenty-first century, and how this is likely to increase.


The study is worthless, given that it is based around RCP 8.5, the high emissions scenario which projects a rise in temperature by 2100 of 5 to 6C. Most serious scientists regard this as being a preposterous projection which will never happen.

The study revolves around two assumptions:

1) There will be more hot days, which will stress cattle

2) Summers will be wetter, causing potato blight.



Taking the first claim, the data shows that hot summers are still the exception. Since 2006, only the summer of 2018 stands out, and even that was much cooler than 1976:





If heat stress was such a problem, then dairy farming would hardly be thriving in the South West, or for that matter Jersey. Instead it would surely be confined to cooler latitudes. I suspect that freezing cold winters are just as stressful for cattle.

Meanwhile, according to DEFRA, milk yields have been rising steadily since 1975, hardly a sign of heat stress:




Then we come onto potato blight, which thrives in wet summers. Blight is of course a perennial problem, and was the cause of the Irish famine in 1845. Farmers have long learnt to adapt and live with blight.

The Met Office data however indicates that English summers are not getting wetter, or for that matter drier:



It should of course be pointed out that drought is just as much of a problem for potato harvest as blight is.

Potato yields in Britain fell sharply during the wet summer of 2012, and again in the dry summer of 2018. Otherwise however yields in the last decade have been much higher than pre 1990:





No doubt if global temperatures rise by 6C farmers will have to learn to adapt, just as they would if there was a nuclear winter or an asteroid hitting the Earth.

But perhaps in future the taxpayer funded Met Office ought to focus on more mundane matters, such as getting accurate long term forecasts, which might actually benefit the farmers of today.

  1. Gamecock permalink
    March 21, 2021 11:59 am

    ‘There will be more hot days, which will stress cattle’

    They grow cattle on the Continent. Where there are more hot days.

    They grow cattle in South Carolina. Where there are way more hot days.

  2. Tim Leeney permalink
    March 21, 2021 11:59 am

    Do they not have cattle in France?

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 21, 2021 12:22 pm

      Only stressed cattle. It should be illegal to sell stressed beef in UK.

  3. March 21, 2021 11:59 am

    “Projections show potential for major climate change impacts on UK farming”

    “Projections show”
    What a great little phrase that is.

  4. johnbillscott permalink
    March 21, 2021 12:06 pm

    Coming from the people who cannot predict tomorrows weather.
    Cattle seem to survive both cold and heat here in North America, but, I guess the Met do not look outside their rarefied expensive bubble.

    • March 21, 2021 6:47 pm

      Hear hear! (re tomorrow’s weather)

      Perhaps their supercomputers were bought on the cheap!

      • M E permalink
        March 21, 2021 7:34 pm

        Garbage in Garbage out. Super computers can only work on what is entered into programs which are created by people.

      • tom0mason permalink
        March 22, 2021 5:41 am

        M E,
        For the Met Office it’s Garbage In, Gospel out!

  5. Gerry, England permalink
    March 21, 2021 12:20 pm

    Something that needs to be considered with crop yields is the amount of planting. Levels may change due to the conditions at planting time. No point planting a potato crop in saturated soil if it will just rot before it grows.

  6. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    March 21, 2021 12:21 pm

    Record world wheat harvests…..

  7. March 21, 2021 12:24 pm

    The strange thing is the UK Gov made a decision to get rid of nearly all its crop research and farming research around 2007. All the centres are gone.

  8. Broadlands permalink
    March 21, 2021 12:41 pm

    “The study is based on a climate projection…”

    The entire global warming, aka climate change crisis and emergency is based on model projections.

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” HL Mencken.

  9. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 21, 2021 12:45 pm

    The main threat to farming is climate change and energy POLICY and the fashionable banning of chemicals owing to activist campaigns and dissembling ‘research’ about supposed harm to bees, carcinogenic affects etc.

    • March 21, 2021 1:08 pm

      Exactly just as is becomie blindingly clear that the main threat to energy security is the imposition of Gween energy and STILL people do not wake up and get it. We have a completely supine population in the West thanks to 40 years of marxist indoctrination attacking all the pillars not only of our society but also of education, deliberately enacted to take away common sense and the ability to think individually, replacing it with the herd instinct of their choosing.

  10. NeilC permalink
    March 21, 2021 1:13 pm

    Warming temperatures, more CO2= more grass. Cattle will have less time inside during winter and more time out eating that lovely green stuff. Farmers won’t have to pay for silage and haylage whoopee

  11. Ian Wileon permalink
    March 21, 2021 1:26 pm

    According to Clintel (Climate Intelligence Foundation) and other sources including this blog, the modest rise in CO2 in recent years has significantly boosted crop yields, I have seen 14% quoted though it varies hugely by crop type. Thus farmers may reasonably celebrate this bonus, and so should the rest of us – more food for the 6 million more mouths we are adding every month and potentially lower food prices.

    What is there not to like about the modestly rising CO2 level? Strange, isn’t it, that the National Farmers Union is vigorously promoting zero carbon? Fortunately Farmers for Action take a more realistic and science based approach to climate.

  12. StephenP permalink
    March 21, 2021 1:45 pm

    Looking back at the very hot summers in 1975 and 1976, the cattle coped with the heat. They would graze when the temperature was lower and spend the heat of the day under cover.
    How do you think cattle cope with the heat in Africa and Australia?
    The more pertinent problem is providing enough food, but this can be overcome by suitable grazing management and buffer feeding with maize and grass silage and fodder turnips.
    When the rains finally came the cattle all rushed outside and stood under the hedges enjoying the rain on their backs.

  13. stevejay permalink
    March 21, 2021 1:45 pm

    It’s the goon show again. ‘Heat stressed cattle’, what heat is that then? Surely the slight rise in CO2 will improve crop growth. They should be delighted. If it’s flooding they’re worried about, the recent floods in Yorkshire and the Somerset Levels were caused by bad land management , NOT climate change. Even the farmers will tell you that.
    I burnt my toast this morning, I suppose that was due to climate change !

  14. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 21, 2021 2:09 pm

    People get paid to produce this nonsense. They should be fired, or at least reassigned to something more productive.

  15. Penda100 permalink
    March 21, 2021 4:52 pm

    From the Met Office website:
    Our three Cray XC40 supercomputing systems:
    Are capable of over 14,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second – that’s more than 2 million calculation per second for every man, woman and child on the planet.
    Contain 2 petabytes of memory enough to hold 200 trillion numbers.
    Contain a total of 460,000 compute cores. These are faster versions of those found in a typical quad-core laptop.
    Contain 24 petabytes of storage for saving data – enough to store over 100 years worth of HD movies

    And they still haven’t realised that if you put garbage in you get garbage out.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 21, 2021 8:14 pm

      Hardware can’t fix bad software.

  16. Dave Ward permalink
    March 21, 2021 6:06 pm

    “And they still haven’t realised that if you put garbage in you get garbage out”

    Ah, but they get BETTER QUALITY garbage out…

  17. Stuart Brown permalink
    March 21, 2021 9:00 pm

    The look on that cow’s face says it all.

  18. tom0mason permalink
    March 22, 2021 2:10 am

    The anti-carnivore campaign is yet another con!
    Humans are omnivores and as such have teeth and a digestive system that shows that we REQUIRE high energy/protein food to live well.

    More to the fact is that the meat rearing and processing is needed by modern grain and vegetable oil production to help clean-up it’s waste. If these farmed animals were not around we would be overwhelmed with the indigestible remains of growing crops.
    See for more.

  19. Gamecock permalink
    March 22, 2021 11:03 am

    Met Office ventriloquy, “WE speak for the cattle. You shut up.”

  20. Graeme No.3 permalink
    March 22, 2021 11:09 am

    Don’t know if this will come through.

    Extraordinary propensity of British farmers…

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