Farmers have been told they can help to mitigate the potential effects of climate change by adopting new practices to reduce their output of greenhouse gases and to adapt without harming either their produce or profit.
Professor Gareth Wyn Jones of Bangor University outlined his plan when he addressed the annual meeting of NFU Cymru Mid Gwynedd as guest speaker at Meifod Country House Hotel, Bontnewydd.
Professor Jones said, "It is important for farmers to prepare for a future where it is likely that weather will be more unpredictable as a result of greenhouse gases. The answer for farmers in Wales is to look at mitigation, adaptation and resilience."
Based on research carried out for Welsh Government, he said the most effective methods to reduce emissions lay in a more streamlined beef and milk production and using anaerobic digestion of manure and slurry to produce useable methane without polluting the air; growing more woodland; improving sheep farming productivity; and reducing waste, especially on expensive fertilizer, through better management.
"There is also space to increase arable, horticulture and greenhouse crops and considerable potential for adopting renewable energy such as wind, biomass, hydro and solar
and, of course, there is personal individual responsibility.
"The most recent predictions forecast a nine billion world population by 2050 and a possible increase in global temperature along with other changes bringing drought or flooding through the effect of greenhouse gases, with consequent implications for food production," Professor Jones said.
Professor Jones chaired The Land Use Climate Change Group set up under the previous Welsh Government two years ago as an independent body with representatives from the farming, forestry, research and environmental sectors. It was asked to consider how agriculture and rural land use could help to reduce and adapt to climate change and to look at opportunities for farming and forestry.
NFU Cymru Deputy President Mr Stephen James emphasised farmers concerns regarding the greening element within the Common Agricultural Policy reform proposals, the limited possibilities in Wales for growing crops such as wheat and the continued disappointment with Welsh Government’s failure to implement wildlife controls against bovine TB.
The Mid-Gwynedd annual report was presented by retiring Chairman Mr Edwin Noble.