Record-breaking heat in farmer's 'weather forecast' for July 2050

Credit: NFU

A weather forecast projecting almost 30 years into the future has been mocked up to highlight the impact of climate change on farming.

The 'forecast' for July 2050 was released on the first day of the Great Yorkshire Show on Tuesday, July 13, which this year is putting the issue at centre stage.

Presented by 28-year-old North Yorkshire farmer James Johnson, the forecast anticipates far drier, hotter summers and aims to show how different farming could look in the future as the industry responds to the increasingly extreme weather patterns predicted by meteorologists.

'Warmest years on record'

NFU President, Minette Batters, is urging the government, water companies and farmers to properly invest in water management as a critical response to climate change and call for a long-term, collaborative approach.

She said: “As the UK gears up to host the UN climate change conference – COP26 – in November, the nation will be at the centre of global discussions on how to respond to climate shifts.

“From our farmers’ perspective, climate change is already here. Since 2002 we have recorded our top-ten warmest years on record and in Yorkshire they are already at the sharp end of increasingly extreme weather events.”

It suggests the emergence of new crops, greater collaboration to secure water supplies for food production, a changing landscape with more drought-resistant tree species, a greater role for farm-scale renewable energy and even a different look to the working day and farming year.

It's hoped the forecast will prompt discussion about the climate challenges facing the region's farmers now and in the future, and in particular the need for a more joined-up integrated water management strategy to help British farmers achieve their goal of leading the world in climate-friendly food production.

The NFU said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change already accepted that climate change is affecting food security, predicting that food supply could well become more unstable as extreme weather leads to greater disruption of supply chains.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of food production as we chart a course through our climate challenges,” added Mrs Batters.

“We can deliver on our net zero pledge while retaining, if not growing, our agricultural capacity, but adopting a new approach to water will be essential.”

The NFU said Yorkshire farmers suffered significant damage when the county experienced three once-in-100-year floods in 2019/20, but consistently hotter, drier summers also have the potential to severely impact food production in the county.

Chairman of the NFU’s national Environment Forum, Yorkshire farmer Richard Bramley, said: "Locally the drive to achieve more joined-up thinking is already underway as we have worked hard to forge close working relationships with all the key decision makers in the region’s complex water management jigsaw,.

“But there is much more to do to ensure that policies around droughts and floods are not dealt with in silos."