by Samuel Masse – Young farmer, CEJA
In Southern Europe, the main effects of climate change observed are the intensification and increase in the duration of intense episodes such as drought or heavy precipitations resulting in floods.
The most recent example dates back to June 21st, 2019, with a heatwave that destroyed 30% of the farm production at a temperature of 46°C. However, most of the effects are less spectacular and more insidious. For the past 5 years, on Samuel Masse’s farm, they have seen a significant drop in agricultural yields, with plants that are increasingly affected by episodes of dryness. They have also been able to observe the impacts on the fauna and more particularly the insects and the birds with a strong decrease of the populations and the migrators who arrive and leave earlier.
To adapt to the effects of climate change, the young farmer has set up (on half the vineyard) a network of drip to irrigate the vines and moderate the effects of intense water stress. In parallel, to avoid erosion during heavy rains, they have rebuilt the old stone walls bordering the plots. Another positive effect of these walls is that they are excellent hotel insect.
To go in this direction, they have planted hedgerows on the edges of the plots and trees to welcome the birds but also to help the bats who are essential allies to regulate the population of insects. With the climatic warming, they have decided to plant varietals of vine naturally resistant to the effect of dryness coming from Spain.
Regarding irrigation, the main difficulty refers to the cost and especially the implementation that required a lot of work. Moreover, being in organic agriculture, they had to suspend the pipes to be able to work the soil between the vines. The irrigation allowed to secure the income by having more regular harvests.
However, the positive effect is the regularity of the yield of grapes but also better quality in the maturity of the grapes because too intense water stress blocks the sugars and therefore their ripening.
Other developments (dry stone walls, hedges, etc.) allowed to reduce pesticide use by having a better regulation of the insect population such as Cochylis and Eudemis (moth).
Practices on irrigation, implementation of live/dead fences to reduce erosion and the use of vines varieties with drought tolerance are considered CSA practices, which contribute mainly to adaptation and productivity pillars with mitigation co-benefits in some cases. It is worth highlighting that live fences have adaptation co-benefits concerning insects, which reduces the chances of crop losses. Moreover, practices that involve tree-planting help significantly to increase carbon sequestration, therefore, contributes to mitigation.
The initiative might benefit from including other practices, which can be identified by farmers if building capacity processes are put in place. For example, strengthening capacity on understanding climate information is important the climate information flow strengthens with farmers, ensuring that in the future they can make better-informed decisions considering their socioeconomic and environmental conditions.
It is highly recommended to seek solutions that are cost-effective, as it increases the chances that the practices will be implemented by farmers over time. Therefore, it would be useful to implement practices that have already been assessed regarding their cost-effectiveness prior to promoting them to farmers and sharing with them both the synergies and trade-offs when implementing each practice.