Growing through Climate Change: practical advice for farmers and growers

Climate change is already impacting food supplies, and is forecast to create much greater disruption in the years ahead. Seeding our Future commissioned research to understand both the threats and the scope for positive adaptation: two versions are available, one for Wales and the Borders, one of the focus areas for Seeding our Future’s work, and one for South West England.

This report shows how adaptive cultivation methods and changing crop choices can enable producers in this region and in Britain generally to maintain and increase production, despite increasing weather extremes. It offers detailed insights for arable farmers, professional horticultural growers, home growers and consumers. The research is available free of charge. For more information, click on one of the links below:

Growing through Climate Change: Wales – Full Report
Growing through Climate Change: South West England – Full Report
Growing through Climate Change: Wales – Summary Report
Growing through Climate Change: South West England – Summary Report

It is relatively easier for Britain to adapt to future climate impacts here, than other parts of the world: for example, the Mediterranean Basin, which is a major supplier to Britain, is expected to see major drops in output in the coming decades due to prolonged droughts.

This report highlights ways that UK producers can reduce our dependence on imports, which is especially acute for vegetables and fruit. Growing through Climate Change also shows how consumers can adapt to climate change, not only by supporting local producers, but by trying innovative new products and dietary changes, for example home-grown legumes.

Seeding our Future is assisting the work of Our Food 1200 to improve food security and reduce import dependence in Wales: this includes a major collaborative project with the Welsh government, involving farmers, communities and intermediaries.

Currently the UK produces 60% of its overall food, down from 80% in 1984. Increasing the level of self-sufficiency should be a high priority for local food economies, and for Government policy. In an ideal world, the changes suggested by this report would have strong financial and policy support from the UK Government. That looks unlikely at present, so a crucial enabler for change is consumers and local community groups, and innovative farmers who are willing to try new practices and crops. This report details the actions that these groups can take.