Northern Ireland Environmental Link (NIEL) has announced its Rural Resilience Project, which “supports progress towards sustainable agriculture by providing information to farmers on climate risks”.
The resilience project also aims to raise awareness among farmers of not only climate risks, but also business opportunities for farmers in Northern Ireland.
Adaption techniques include avoiding over tillage of seedbeds to protect topsoil and assessment of soil PH.
For adaption in hot weather conditions, it is recommended to provide enough ventilation in livestock housing,
Adapting management practices is also important to benefit from long growing seasons and warming temperatures, different sowing/harvesting dates, crop diversification and rotation are also recommended for adaption in farms.
As there is often a loss of biodiversity, it is recommended to introduce new species better suited to future climate conditions and which is more resilient to pests and diseases.
Agriculture in NI
One of Northern Ireland’s most important industries is agriculture. Over 26,000 active businesses, such as small farms, use 75% of the land in Northern Ireland.
According to NIEL, climate change is already being seen and experienced first hand amongst the agriculture sector.
The group has said that there are a number of key threats from climate change on the industry, emphasising that it is important for farm businesses to be able to adapt to the consequences of climate change.
These include droughts and incidences of new pests and diseases, increased flooding, loss of biodiversity which leads to poor animal health and affects crop health; this can lead to financial loss from poor food production.
Northern Ireland is expected to have “increased intensity in extreme weather events, wetter winters and hotter drier summers”.
The Rural Resilience Project puts a lot of focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions i.e., climate mitigation, but the project also acknowledges that climate adaption is just as important so that farm businesses can “actively prepare”.