Farmer flexibility concerning future rotation planning is affected by the framing of climate predictions

Bane, Miranda S.; Pocock, Michael J.O.; Gibert, Caroline; Forster, Matthieu; Oudoire, Geoffroy; Derocles, Stéphane A.P.; Bohan, David A.. 2021 Farmer flexibility concerning future rotation planning is affected by the framing of climate predictions. Climate Risk Management, 34, 100356. 12, pp.

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Arable crops are typically grown in annual rotations. Diverse rotations can deliver ecosystem services, provide economic resilience, and support adaptation to climate change. Our aim was to assess farmers’ attitudes to planning and diversifying crop rotations, focusing on their responses in the face of contrasting climate viewpoints. We interviewed 75 farmers from four regions along a latitudinal gradient from the south of the UK to the south of France. We used a semi-structured questionnaire with face-to-face interviews and asked farmers to respond to two narrative viewpoints of climate change impacts: one viewpoint focused on opportunities, the other on constraints. We found in all four regions that farmers’ use rotations, and the crops within rotations, to achieve their main objectives of financial stability and improved soil health. Most farmers (79–100% depending on region) said they had experienced climate change, and many (54–83%) had already implemented changes in their farming practices. We did not find a difference in these results based on latitude. However, farmers’ self-reported outlook was mostly optimistic in southern UK and become progressively more pessimistic further south. When presented with a viewpoint of climate change impacts focusing on opportunities, more farmers were likely to diversify and lengthen rotations, and fewer were likely to shorten them, compared to a viewpoint presenting constraints from these impacts. Crucially, here we show that the presentation of climate change affects the ways in which farmers predict how they will respond to climate change. Diversified rotations align with multiple other economic and environmental benefits. Therefore, it is essential to consider the way in which climate change impacts are communicated, and the effect this has farmers’ behavior, when designing measures to support environmentally sustainable adaptation to climate change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2212-0963
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: agronomy, arable farming, climate change, outlook, planning, rotations
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 05 Oct 2021 10:55 +0 (UTC)

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