Homegrown Fruit & Veg At Risk Due To Extreme Weather
A new report from The Climate Coalition and the Priestley International Centre for Climate has revealed that British-grown fruit and vegetables are being put at risk because of extreme and unpredictable weather, made more likely by climate change, with growers struggling to cope.
Climate change saw the summer heatwave of 2018 made around 30 times more likely, with climate extremes over the last couple of years proving very difficult indeed for fruit and veg farmers in the UK, with over half saying they’ve been affected by severe climactic events like flooding or storms in the last decade.
The lack of water, coupled with the extreme heat we experienced last year, saw more than an inch cut off the size of the average chip – and farming groups are now warning consumers that they should expect to see smaller and fewer popular vegetables, like leeks, potatoes, onions and carrots, because of 2018’s cold spring and heatwave, which combined have limited crop growth.
Where crops are concerned, heavy rainfall can waterlog land which prevents access and harvest, therefore reducing yields. Drought can increase demand for irrigation when water supplies may not be available (which will also lead to reduced yields), while flooding can cause soil erosion which will kill plants and result in long-term yield loss, as well as increasing a susceptibility of roots to disease.
“For all vegetable production in the east of the UK, any expected benefits from an extended growing season will be counteracted by reduced water availability, particularly given the competing human and industrial water demands. Even those with irrigation will be hit as these systems rely to a large extent on water abstraction on-farm, which will be affected by reduced surface and groundwater,” the report observes.
So what can be done? While you might not work in the agricultural industry, you can still do your bit to help those that do – and ensure that we can all continue enjoying the delicious homegrown fruit and veg that we’ve become accustomed to.
Because we are living in times of water stress and scarcity, even here in the UK which might sound strange when you think of the climate we have, businesses should think about taking a stand now and reviewing their water usage to help protect this resource for future generations.
The Environment Agency warned last year that England will face water supply shortages by the year 2050 unless rapid action is taken now to curb water use and wastage – so why don’t you start looking into the likes of commercial rainwater harvesting so you have other alternatives to your mains supply.
You can use this harvested rainwater for toilet flushing, laundry and process water, vehicle washing and more, once it’s been collected from the roof of your building and then filtered properly.