Farming sector must be 'proactive' to adapt to climate change

Farmers attended a conference at the James Hutton Institute to consider new ways of adapting to our changing climate.

Scotland’s agricultural sector needs to shift from being “reactive to proactive” in order to adapt to our changing climate.

That’s according to the James Hutton Institute, which hosted an event for farmers earlier this week to help them learn how new technology can aid their crops.

Inventions on display included a robot which uses extremely high-resolution imaging to monitor the status of crops, and a machine which kills weed using just steam.

“Where it is found to be effective, the benefits would be the reduction in chemical use,” said Andrew Christie, an agronomist at the James Hutton Institute.

“We need to be able to weigh that up with the other tools that are available to us.

“If it’s still safe to use the chemicals that’s fine, but we need to know if these other options are effective for the farmer as well.”

New technology can help farmers become more sustainable and 'proactive' against climate change

Like many areas of society, farmers are being urged to move towards becoming net zero.

The Scottish Government’s Climate Change plan states agricultural emissions need to be cut by nearly a third within the next decade.

“We’ve had one of our wettest Marches on record then one of our driest and warmest Mays on record,” said Alison Karley, and agroecologist at the James Hutton Institute.

“We can see how the environment is changing, farmers have to cope with that increasing unpredictability.

“Alongside that, the policy environment is encouraging them to go towards net zero in terms of preserving biodiversity, preventing future biodiversity declines.

“There are a lot of pressures.”

A series of discussions on some of the most pressing issues facing the farming sector were held as part of an event run by Arable Scotland.

Organisers said they’re optimistic it can help lead to positive change

Experts at the James Hutton Institute say the whole sector needs to engage to meet environmental targets

“People are more willing to sit down and talk across the supply chain,” added Dr Karley.

“That’s got to be key, that’s what the theme of today’s event is about.

“Innovating for the future and that collaboration to share knowledge and information so everybody can be brought on board.

“Everyone can make progress towards tackling these really big issues we’re facing.”

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