Europe, UK, Ireland

Climate change in practice? Potato fields in Scotland under extreme pressure as drought conditions continue

Conditions in Scotland’s potato fields are rapidly approaching those experienced during the  drought of 1976, when yields crashed, scarcity created demand and prices rocketed to an unprecedented £300/tonne. Dr Mark Stalham, a senior research associate at world-leading agronomy institute NIAB CUF, confirmed this is just the second year in four decades when high temperatures and lack of rainfall for more than a month have placed such strains on the UK’s potato crops. However, he insisted it was unlikely that prices would reach anywhere close to £750/tonne which would be the 2018 equivalent of 1976 prices. “But we may see prices reach into the high £300s or £400s per tonne.” Dr Stalham warned growers attending the AHDB open day at Bruce Farms near Meigle that crops are already being sacrificed because of lack of rainfall as even farmers with irrigators are struggling to get round their fields to get moisture into the soil. He also predicted that the summer of 2018 is just a foretaste of climate change and what the weather will be like in 30 years. “Lessons are being learned this year about irrigation and how we need to gear up for climate change. Read more