Thriv­ing in the cli­mate change new nor­mal

The Orchardist - - >>Orchard Management - By Brent Cloth­ier

Sun­burn, drought, and loss of win­ter chilling are some of the threats fac­ing or­chardists and grow­ers from cli­mate change.

How­ever, if grow­ers im­ple­ment sus­tain­able best-man­age­ment prac­tices to adapt to th­ese changes, they could use cli­mate change to their ad­van­tage and be able to re­ceive an “eco­premium” for their prod­ucts, as con­sumers are be­com­ing more con­scious of the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and foot­print of what they buy.

A grow­ing num­ber of over­seas su­per­mar­ket chains such as Tesco and Sains­bury’s are tak­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal cre­den­tials and prod­uct ori­gins into con­sid­er­a­tion when they source pro­duce.

Con­sumers are chang­ing in new, emerg­ing mar­kets too. A Plant & Food Re­search study on 2000 mid­dle-class Chi­nese in af­flu­ent Chi­nese coastal cities last year re­vealed that 42 per­cent of them seek food that is bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment where it was grown.

New Zealand hor­ti­cul­ture is a low emis­sions sec­tor in re­la­tion to green­house gases. It does not emit meth­ane, a ma­jor green­house gas pro­duced by ru­mi­nants, which ac­counts for 35 per­cent of the coun­try’s to­tal green­house gas emis­sions. Or­chard plants can store car­bon above ground in their trunks and branches and be­low ground in their roots. This pho­to­syn­thetic car­bon cap­ture and stor­age mech­a­nism traps

Dr Brent Cloth­ier is prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist at Plant & Food Re­search.

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