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Climate Change and Dairy Systems

Cow at gate

Climate change will bring many challenges for dairy farmers in Scotland, mainly in the areas of:

  • Pests and diseases:  New and different pests and diseases, e.g. bluetongue may be present
  • Costs:  Pressure on food and fuel availability could push up prices
  • Productivity: Temperature changes could affect milk production levels, lactation cycles and forage availability

There may be some benefits in reduced housing heating and fertiliser costs, new products and markets. For example, drought summer conditions elsewhere in the world (eg Australia, Southern Europe) could affect world markets.

The dairy industry should prepare for these changes and can also play its part in mitigating the effects of climate change by:

  • Better targeted application of fertilisers
  • Using different grass and clover varieties which can handle changes in climate  
  • Trying to reduce soil damage with better grassland management

Prof Bob Rees

Professor of Agriculture & Climate Change / Head of Carbon Management Centre

Address: Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4365

E-mail: bob.rees@sruc.ac.uk

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