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Modelling the Effect of Climate Change on Environmental Pollution Losses from Dairy Systems in the UK

Keywords: Climate change, farming, GHG, NO3 leaching, sustainability, systems-based simulation

Author(s): Agustin del Prado, Anita Shepherd, Lianhai Wu, Cairistiona Topp, Dominic Moran, Bert Tolkamp and David Chadwick

Date: 2009-20-10

Issue: 2009-07

  Download this working paper (717 KB.)

So far, there has been strong emphasis on studying the impacts of climate change on agriculture in terms of changes in food production; however, there is increasing evidence that agricultural ecosystems (e.g. livestock) will also be severely affected in terms of other goods and services. For example, patterns and loads of environmental pollution derived from nutrient losses are expected to change dramatically (e.g. increased run-off: Betts et al., 2007). There have been few studies that use a system-based approach to explore the complex interactions between farm inputs, response of system components and inherent site factors that give rise to changes in productivity, environmental pollution losses and agricultural services in future scenarios. This article describes the methodology and the results of a study to evaluate the effect of climate change only on losses of nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) from grassland-based livestock systems in 10 UK Regional Development Programme (RDP) areas. In order to do so, a modelling framework integrating different models at the crop and farm level was developed and implemented. Simulated projections suggest that farming systems will undergo different changes in food production and associated nutrient losses depending on different areas and time-slices. Potential trade-offs on other pillars of farm sustainability (e.g. net farm income, biodiversity and soil quality) were simulated and illustrated as an example.

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