The environment work stream has developed five ecosystem-based report cards to communicate the effects of drought in an accessible way. The report cards are a synthesis of existing knowledge and new research within the programme. The ecosystems are:
The report cards capture the latest, cutting edge data from the programme and designed to be used by all, including the general public. The series summarises current and future aspects of water scarcity in the main ecosystems of the UK and cover the ecosystem responses, future scenarios and potential for drought management.
Harper Adams University has undertaken an extensive review of the impact of drought on crops grown in the UK and their response to different climate futures. This also includes a consolidation of insights for protected and horticultural crops. This report is available in draft and more focussed crop factsheets are in production.
Increasing the farming sector’s resilience to drought and water scarcity risks
Water is at the heart of farming and agri-businesses, particularly in eastern England, the east midlands, and south-east, the driest and most water-stressed areas in the UK. Without water most agri-businesses would simply not survive. Irrigated agriculture supplies the UK’s agri-food industry with substantial quantities of high-quality potatoes, fruit and vegetables. But increasing regulation, droughts and a changing climate all threaten the sustainability of this industry and the rural livelihoods it supports. While other sectors and businesses have water strategies, the agriculture sector does need. Agriculture therefore needs a water strategy to ensure that it receives a fair share of the nation’s available water resources.
To address this need researchers at Cranfield University have been working in partnership with the National Farmers Union (NFU), the UK Irrigation Association (UKIA) and other stakeholders to develop a collective vision. The strategy sets out some guiding principles and proposes actions grouped according to the following themes:
Manage current and future demand in abstraction ‘hotspots’
Address environmental challenges linked to over-abstraction and climate change
Build water infrastructure to provide resilience for farming businesses
Promote business growth and support multi-sector stakeholder engagement
The Agricultural Synthesis report summarises the key findings that emerged from the five Drought and Water Scarcity programme projects to help the UK agriculture and horticultural sector to better understand, forecast, manage and respond to the challenges posed by droughts and water scarcity. The report summarises how drought and water scarcity affects agriculture, and the consequent impact on rainfed and irrigated agriculture. The report also considers drought forecasting and whether drought and water scarcity impacts can be reduced.