Climate Change > re-addressing food value & equity...
The rising challenges due to the severe weather conditions – prescribed to global climate change - make agriculture within a physically ‘protected and controlled’ indoor growing environment safer, more reliable and climate resilient.
It is now universally acknowledged that climate change is making extreme weather more frequent. 2012 was a year of dramatic contrast, beginning with long-term drought heightened by a relatively dry January to March. This was followed by an abrupt shift in weather patterns bringing an exceptionally wet period. In fact, the UK experienced the heaviest recorded rainfall from April to June on record. Rainfall totals for autumn and December remained well above average, and a succession of rain events in late November and late December contributed to extensive disruption from flooding. The wet weather affected both the harvest of the 2012 crops and the planting and establishment of the 2013 crops. The early and late seasonal frosts are unpredictable and frequently destroy fragile crops.
From field-to-fork, the global food system is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable agriculture can control climate change by reducing dependency on fossil fuels and energy requirements, in particular reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers. Of global man-made emissions, in 2005 approximately 50% of nitrogen oxide and approximately 47% of methane (which have a significant impact on global warming) came from agriculture. Nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture are mainly generated by nitrogen fertilizers and the use of manure, which are often used in excess and therefore not completely used by the growing crops.
Food and farming is responsible for around one fifth of all the UK's greenhouse gas emissions - as much as all the transport or all of the domestic power outputs in the UK. The figures from The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has calculated that, globally, agriculture generates 30% of total man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, including half of methane emissions and more than half of the emissions of nitrous oxide. In the EU, over 30% of the greenhouse gases from consumer purchases come from the food and drink sector. Latest conservative estimates from the Food Climate Research Network in the UK suggest that almost one-fifth of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions are associated with our food and drink. A University of Manchester report, The Adaptation & Mitigation in the UK Food System (Bows, A et al, July 2012), suggests the UK will face a potential food crisis with dramatically reduced food choices in the future unless more is done to cut greenhouse gasses. Contributing approximately 7% to total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, the agricultural industry has been set an emission reduction target of 11% by 2020. Farmers and growers therefore face a significant double challenge: they must work to meet the ambitious GHG emissions targets set by the government and to adapt their production methods to suit a more variable climate.
However the multi-functionality of agriculture means it can address crises of energy, food, poverty, inequality and water. In response, innovative low-carbon farming technology and techniques is essential to reduce carbon footprints to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.