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Irish farms under climate change – is there a regional variation on farm responses?

  • S. SHRESTHA (a1), M. ABDALLA (a2) (a3), T. HENNESSY (a4), D. FORRISTAL (a5) and M. B. JONES (a2)...

The current paper aims to determine regional impacts of climate change on Irish farms examining the variation in farm responses. A set of crop growth models were used to determine crop and grass yields under a baseline scenario and a future climate scenario. These crop and grass yields were used along with farm-level data taken from the Irish National Farm Survey in an optimizing farm-level (farm-level linear programming) model, which maximizes farm profits under limiting resources. A change in farm net margins under the climate change scenario compared to the baseline scenario was taken as a measure to determine the effect of climate change on farms. The growth models suggested a decrease in cereal crop yields (up to 9%) but substantial increase in yields of forage maize (up to 97%) and grass (up to 56%) in all regions. Farms in the border, midlands and south-east regions suffered, whereas farms in all other regions generally fared better under the climate change scenario used in the current study. The results suggest that there is a regional variability between farms in their responses to the climate change scenario. Although substituting concentrate feed with grass feeds is the main adaptation on all livestock farms, the extent of such substitution differs between farms in different regions. For example, large dairy farms in the south-east region adopted total substitution of concentrate feed while similar dairy farms in the south-west region opted to replace only 0·30 of concentrate feed. Farms in most of the regions benefitted from increasing stocking rate, except for sheep farms in the border and dairy farms in the south-east regions. The tillage farms in the mid-east region responded to the climate change scenario by shifting arable production to beef production on farms.

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