Agriculture has always been at the mercy of the weather and, by implication, changing climates must mean a need for change in farming. This change is not without its challenges, as global food demand and the impact on the environment need to be considered. Furthermore, there are agricultural practices, such as multi-year crop rotations, and investments into existing or new equipment that make change challenging.
This study considers the three desired outcomes that are integral to climate smart agriculture (CSA). These are the drive towards higher yields, the resilience against climate change and the cost of growing crops in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
The credentials of the sugarcane and sugarbeet industries in terms of these three key outcomes are examined. Yields for both cane and beet are high relative to other crops, which means that even smaller annual increments over the last 60 years, as is the case for cane, still return substantial increases in volumes, relative to changes in other crops. Resilience is reviewed in terms of recent weather anomalies in CS Brazil and the EU. Weather data for the last decade is also reviewed and trends established to give indication of potential climate change impact. Lastly, the GHG emissions from production are assessed and an extensive study completed by the EU’s JRC into biofuels is commented on.
In the conclusion, the study evidences the industry’s outcomes with respect to Climate Smart Agriculture objectives, as well as re-iterating its position in the local economy as a building block for the recovery from climate change shocks. Meanwhile, the GHG mitigation review analysed emissions through the food system and showed a scope for agricultural feedstock-based fuels to replace fossil fuels, with both beet and cane offering excellent prospects.
Introduction 1 Climate Smart Agriculture Relevant Developments in the Sugar Industry 2 Improving yields through Agronomy The Broader Yield Issue Food Production and Uses Yield Outlook 3 Weather and Climate Change Resilience Defining Climate Change Risk Beet Regions Cane Regions Recent Weather Developments La Niña Dynamics Analysis of Rainfall Data Annual Rainfall Data Daily Rainfall Data 4 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Comparing Crops Comprehensive Review of Fuels 5 Conclusion Annexes 1a 10-year rainfall in cane locations 1b 10-year weather patterns in beet locations 2a - Cane - daily rainfall data – high / low and last 2 years 2b - Beet - daily rainfall data – high / low and last 2 years