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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Projects | IRI THESys | Education | Deutschlandstipendium | Themenklasse 2019/20 | Research Summary | Adapting to Climate Change in German Potato Farming: Defining expression for an interdisciplinary approach and scaling sustainabilty

Adapting to Climate Change in German Potato Farming: Defining expression for an interdisciplinary approach and scaling sustainabilty

Richard Berner, Johannes Nöfer and Jonas Wittern

English Deutsch
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Water is essential for both agricultural production and food security. However the consequences of climate change, such as heat waves and other extreme weather events, pose serious challenges for potato cultivation in Germany.

 

This podcast epsiode is dedicated to exploring this problem and interviews experts from agricultural sciences, the Chamber of Agriculture of Lower Saxony and a farmer in Lower Saxony. What ideas, reactions and problems do these actors have on the impact of climate change and potato cultivation? Cultivation trends, irrigation technology and animal pests are just some of the topics brought up.

 

Potatoes are the fourth most important food globally. However, the plant is very sensitive to drought. Even relatively short periods of droughts and heat waves can cause a significant reduction in marketable potatoes. This is a noticeable impact of the drought 2018 in Germany. The interviews with the experts show that in terms of cultivation trends, climate changes impacts from recent years are present in the potato sector (although they have not yet had any effect on the scale of cultivation).

 

Nevertheless, the future of German potato cultivation will be determined by investments in technical equipment in order to avoid possible shortages and heat- as well as storage-damage. The situation is similar for water irrigation-technology and -control. According to the experts at the Lower Saxony Chamber of Agriculture, the choice of irrigation technology in Germany for effective, efficient irrigation depends on the economic factors of the business: water distribution, energy and labour input. However, the continuous changes in weather and temperature do not only affect the potato-plant itself: increasing extreme weather events such as heat, drought, continuous rain or late frost also have an effect on animal pests in potato cultivation, which increase in numbers. The research comes to the following conclusion: despite the difficulty to calculate risks posed by increasing climate change, it is unlikely that potato cultivation will be reduced in the future since the potato-plant plays such an essential economic role for many farms and generally for agriculture in Germany. However, high investments in technical aid such as innovative processing, irrigation and storage methods for the potato must be expected.