climate change seriously affecting agriculture.
Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and longer dry periods are changing what crops Europe can grow and where it can grow them.
Inside BritainA country famous for its damp, bleak landscapes, farmers are now choosing to grow a surprising food because of rising temperatures: hazelnuts.
Inspired by a trip to Sub-Saharan Africa where he saw some interesting “agro-ecological combinations,” Guy Singh-Watson is one of these pioneers.
In 2020, he planted 50 acres of expansive walnut and hazelnut trees on his farm in the picturesque southwest county of Devon. Britain.
“The idea behind the project was to try and produce foods that have essentially less impact on the environment and soil life while trying to increase biodiversity,” Singh-Watson told Euronews.
Hazelnuts can now be grown in the UK
Compared to warmer parts of the world, relatively few edible hazelnuts are grown in England due to its cold and wet climate.
Nuts, sweet chestnuts – brought by the Romans – and walnuts are the main three, although they are mostly grown in the wild or used solely as a food source. Wood.
But that is no longer the case due to climate change that has put the country in the oven. unprecedented temperatures 40°C last year
“There is very little production in this country as the trees are not producing as much as they used to, but with the impact of climate change that will likely change,” Guy told Euronews.
“We are on the northern limit of viability, but if the forecasts come true, we will be in almost optimal conditions”.
“Planning seems like a good thing to do now,” he explains.
Duration climate change While it allowed new foods such as nuts and grapes to be grown for sparkling wine, it also destroyed traditional crops. British farmers reported widespread crop shortages during last year’s drought.
Founder of the vegetable box company, on a project he calls “experimental” Riverford Organic Farmers He has now planted about 5,000 trees on pastures where cattle and sheep graze, although the potential is much, much greater.
The purpose of this is not only to enrich the biodiversity of his farm with more crops and animals, but also to improve soil health as the roots of the trees will help prevent harmful erosion from rain.
‘Great environmental benefit’
Greater blessings are promised food productionbut.
It takes a long time for Guy’s woods to deliver the goods—it takes about five years for the walnut trees to first bear fruit. But once they do, they will provide a stable annual crop for up to a century.
Guy explains that this makes hazelnuts a more reliable food source, especially given that the environment is becoming more and more unregulated with climate change.
“The climate is getting much more unpredictable,” he says.
“Perennial crops [like walnuts] It is much more suited to dealing with unpredictable changes in weather conditions than those planted annually.
“These are large trees with deep roots that can withstand periods of heavy rainfall or drought much better than a lettuce crop.”
Nuts are also a rich source of protein that can be used as a substitute for more carbon-dense alternatives such as beef and lamb.
One kilogram of lamb produces 39 kilograms of CO2, equivalent to driving 91 miles. Nuts produce just 2.3 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram, according to figures from the Environmental Working Group.
There will be trees absorb carbon as we grow and live but there are some concerns.
Growing hazelnuts is a risky decision
While groundbreaking, Guy’s project is still a very risky undertaking, especially if production cannot be made profitable.
“I want it to be something commercial,” he tells Euronews. “When it comes to harvesting, processing and selling, you really need a reasonable scale of production and mechanization.”
“I’m not interested in taking them away”.
Ultimately, it draws attention to deeper issues. farming and how the market works puts more environmentally friendly products at a disadvantage.
“The question is: Can it be done in an economically viable way in a world where farmers are not charged for degenerative effects? [of their practices]like using agrochemicals or emitting carbon emissions?”
“Had all this taken into account, I’m sure our system would be very economically profitable compared to that.”