Water Scarcity Seen Raising Risk to U.K. Agriculture Production

Rising temperatures may increase risks for U.K. agricultural production as water supplies become more scarce in the next decade, said an independent adviser to the government on climate change.

The U.K. should improve irrigation efficiency and give farmers incentives to increase water-storage facilities in preparation for drier seasons, the London-based Committee on Climate Change said today in a report. A dry year in the 2020s might result in a water shortage of as much as 120 billion liters (31.7 billion gallons), equal to the amount farmers use now to irrigate crops in a typical year, it said.

“Much of the cropland in England is located in areas where water resources are already overstretched,” the committee said. “These pressures are likely to grow from the combined effects of climate change and increased demand from economic and population growth.”

Fertile topsoils are becoming eroded and are at risk of disappearing in the East Anglia Fens in the next few decades, according to the report. The group advised putting in place soil-conservation practices such as reduced plowing.

Today’s report is the latest annual study prepared by the committee’s Adaptation Sub-Committee to assess the U.K.’s preparedness for climate change.

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