NEW ZEALAND – The logic behind storing water is ‘irrefutable’, says Federated Farmers of New Zealand (FFNZ).
The statement comes in response to warnings that New Zealand would be subject to longer drought periods, more extreme rainfall and harsher winter winds in the coming years.
The prediction appeared in last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and were reinforced by Dr Jim Salinger, an Auckland based climate expert and lead author on the IPCC.
Federated Farmers of New Zealand has consequently spelled out the need for action to climate change, regardless of how it is caused.
“Whatever ones’ views may be on the causes of climate change, the fact is it is happening and that means we have two realistic options for adaptation,” said Dr William Rolleston FFNZ climate change spokesperson.
Firstly, Dr Rolleston stated that new research in crops and pasture varieties could provide farming with more robust plants.
“This demands an on-going and bipartisan ramp up in both our agricultural research and development spend and science capability,” he added.
Dr Rolleston said the other option was to store more rainwater.
He said: “It is schemes like Opuha, such as Ruataniwha now being proposed in the Hawke’s Bay, which New Zealand needs to build resilience into our economy and society. South Canterbury’s Opuha dam, the most recent dedicated water storage facility which started operating in the late 1990’s, has proven itself by insulating South Canterbury from drought."
He outlined soil, sunlight and water as essential for crop and pasture growth, adding: "While many countries have the first two, it the lack of water that limits food production."
Some of Dr Rolleston's broader messages were that water storage is a climate tool as well as a farming resource, with it depending upon environmental infrastructure and economics.
He concluded that Dr Salinger's warnings have confirmed what farmers have known for some time; that winters are becoming slightly warmer.
Dr Salinger calculated the 2013 winter at 1.27 degrees Celcius above the 1961-1990 average.
Dr Rolleston added: "If it’s getting hotter then we need to store water.”
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