Galway team leads efforts to protect Irish agriculture from climate change

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Galway Daily news €20.6 million in ANC payments issued to Galway farmers

A team of experts from NUI Galway is implementing a plan to protect agriculture in Ireland and along the Atlantic from the effects of climate change.

Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway are implementing the RiskAquaSoil project.

This project aims to identify the greatest risks to soil and water in agricultural areas from climate change and develop a comprehensive plan to manage them.

Agriculture in the Atlantic Area is at high risk from climate change with increased intensity and frequency of storms, drought and flooding.

This has led to huge uncertainty about how out food systems will cope as the blows of climate change keep falling.

The principle aim of RiskAquaSoil is to alert society to the fact that climate disasters can and will happen during our lifetime.

The project invites local communities from Carna to Andalucia to make use of the solutions which are already out there to address the harmful risks to their livelihoods.

Dr Sinead Mellet of the School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway said, “The RiskAquaSoil project will contribute to a better coordination for the detection, risk management and recovery for rural areas, maritime and terrestrial areas.

“Especially for agricultural purposes that are mainly associated to climate change and natural hazards but also to human pressure.”

“Climatic changes are slow on average, but at the extremes they seem to be becoming more frequent.

“This slowly changing average prevents us changing proactively and we end up reacting after disasters, such as recent fires in Greece and the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.”

This integral plan will entail three stages linked to three specific objectives:

Early warning and diagnosis: testing new low-cost remote methods to measure and forecast the local impact of different meteorological phenomena.

The data provided by these will provide better early warning systems for extreme weather events in rural agricultural areas.

Implementation and adaptation: developing several pilot actions in agricultural lands that will permit better soil and water management.

These will take into account the risks associated with climate change, such as flood risk maps and soil erosion risk solutions.

It will also include pilot actions in maritime areas such as soil erosion management, small storm catchment and farm management practices.

Capacity building and dissemination: training and commitment of local communities and farmers for increasing capacity building, information and cooperation in risk management and damage compensation systems.

According to previous research carried out by Dr Mellet, farmers are not proactively seeking out knowledge about climate change unless it’s required by regulations, a customer request, or is economically beneficial.

Sinead Nee, research assistant on the project revealed that farmers in Ireland are concerned about severe weather events, and the effects on their farm.

They also found that the majority of farmers are willing to adapt compulsory measures that will help their farm survive climate change.