Climate change – what it actually means for growers
What can actually be done in preparation? In this article I will give an update on what is happening out there and what is likely to come. I will leave you with some key tips to help you prepare the best you can.
Recently it’s been hard to miss the weather becoming more extreme. The hottest days of the year are becoming hotter, our rainy days seem to be wetter. As many of us felt short changed by summer this year, some areas were feeling the impact of drought and increased fire danger, most notably in Canterbury where the Christchurch Port Hills caught fire. It burned over 2000ha of land, taking several homes and a life. Events like this are becoming more frequent and almost an expectation each year.
Then on the other hand we have seen an increase in heavy rainfall events. As the whole country felt the effects of ex-cyclone Cook, cyclone Debbie left its mark mainly on Edgecumbe. It was hard to miss the impacts felt on this small community as the nearby river stop bank burst, flooding out the entire town. Not to forget the deluge that hit Auckland and the Coromandel earlier this year, leaving some horticulturalists devastated. A kiwifruit orchard in the area had vines, structures and shelters toppled over, only leaving a small remainder of the vines harvestable. The flood waters washed silt throughout the orchard. The result was a clean up that took several days and a massive hit to orchard returns. Major rain events like these are expected to be more common and intense.
Furthermore, as our climate continues to change our ecosystems also change, allowing new diseases and pathogens to establish. An increased range of weeds will be found and in large quantities because their ability to change with the climate is fast. A report by the Royal Society of New Zealand indicates that even with the 1°C rise above pre-industrial average temperatures, that up to 70 native species will face extinction this century. Not only do growers have to prepare for the changes in climate, but also an increased risk to new pests and diseases.
1-13% spring rainfall 1-11% spring rainfall
in Tauranga 5-13% winter rainfall á in Paraparaumu and
7% â in Masterton 7-11% á in rainfall (expect
spring rainfall; no change )
include emergency contact numbers, meeting places and plans for different scenarios e.g. earthquake, flooding, fire.
Owners who have experienced flood damage to their kiwifruit orchards all have some helpful advice to anyone caught in this situation. “Focus on what you have control of”. They emphasise the importance of getting out of the blame game quickly and moving on. It would be very easy for Edgecumbe residents to try and find someone responsible for the stop bank bursting, but it has happened. It is simply better to move past this and focus on what to do next. After an event passes through many big decisions have to be made; do we relocate or replant? Is this likely to happen again? They stressed to not rush into any decisions. Take your time and make rational decisions.
As much of the horticultural industry is in rural areas it is important to work together. The community should have a plan of where to meet during an emergency and where supplies can be accessed. Furthermore, members of the community should maintain a contact list of neighbours, local rural trust, and local civil defence. Everyone should be clear on what their role is during an emergency response. Therefore when a response is needed, it can be put into action immediately.
The MPI website has a range of helpful resources for adverse events. These resources include advice for droughts and flooding, food safety/storage tips and advice on mental well being. If your orchard or business doesn’t have an adverse event plan in place, this is a helpful first stop in establishing that plan.
This isn’t fake news, our climate is changing. The evidence is there and the predictions are serious. It’s important to prepare for these events and create a plan. Having a plan will aid in building resilience into your orchard or business. But above all else, work together, look out for each other. Instead of looking at this as a dreary outlook, turn it into an opportunity. An opportunity to strengthen and develop into something even better than before. You can’t ignore this issue for much longer, so turn it into a positive.
http:// www. mfe. govt. nz/ climate- change/ how- climatechange-affects-nz/climate-change-impacts
https:// www. mpi. govt. nz/ protection- and- response/ responding/adverse-events/planning-for-adverse-events/
https:// www. fmg. co. nz/ what- we- cover/ farmers- growers/ horticulture-viticulture/fruit-trees-vines/
http:// www. mfe. govt. nz/ climate- change/ how- climatechange- affects- nz/ how- might- climate- change- affect- myregion