Agricultural Adaptation (Usti, Czech Republic)
The Climate Challenge
Ústí Region is located in Northwest Bohemia of the Czech Republic and shares a border with Germany. Ústí is one of the most densely populated regions in the country and has a strong historical tradition in agricultural as well as industry. Concerning the agricultural sector, hop cultivation has and continues to be produced in the region. More than 73% of the total hop planting area in the Czech Republic is situated in the Usti region alone.
The Ústí region was selected as a case study because it has become one of the driest areas in the Czech Republic and is therefore a highly relevant area for climate change impacts and also adaptation measures. Based on the climate scenarios in the period 2051-2100, hop yield is expected to decline up to 7-10% as well as potential changes in quality of the crop with an expected α-acid content of 13-32%. The concentration of hop cultivation in a comparatively small part of the Czech Republic makes it more vulnerable than if the crop were grown throughout the country and in more regions with different and less dry climates. The Ústí region faces several climate change risks. These risks include hydrometeorlogical extremes that result in storms, short periods of very warm weather in winter, spring frost, flooding, drought induced heat waves. The increase of the occurrence of harmful agents such as pathogens, pests, weeds is also predicted to worsen as well as more general changes farming conditions and shifts in productive regions.
The aim of Ústí Region case study, therefore, is to investigate suitable and sustainable adaptation measures and strategies in the agricultural (particularly hop growing) and water management sector to deal with changing climate (mainly water availability). The case study also aims to investigate the perceptions of local stakeholders towards climate change (in particular drought) and to understand their preferences towards suitable adaptation measures and strategies in the agricultural sector.
The Adaptation Response
The adaptation measures explored in the case study reflect potential activities and measures to deal with drought and extreme weather events in the agricultural sector. The measures were selected as input data for the questionnaire that aims to explore the attitudes of local stakeholders towards these measures, and thus identify potential barriers of implementation.
The People and Institutions Involved
The case study had a broad and multistakeholder approach including both private and public institutions and local individuals. The local hop farmers were key participants and approximately half of the farmers in the region participated along with the Hop Growers Union, a farmer union that represents the sector as a whole. Private companies in the region involved in hop business also participated as did a the hop research institute, a public research isntitute that focuses specifically on cultivation, harvest, and post-harvest treatement of hops. From the governance sector, water management authorities were engaged as the responsible entity for potential measures to be implemented in the water sector.
The Outcome of Action
In March 2014, a quantitative questionnaire was distributed among hop growers situated mainly in Ústí region. We received answers from 50 respondents out of 119 hop growers in the Czech Republic. From the respondents, 88% were men, 12% women. Regarding education, 88% had secondary and higher education and had an average of 24 years of experience farming. The majority, 52%, were farming on an area of hop gardens of up to 25 hectares.
One of the topics of the questionnaire was asking farmers whether they would be willing to implement particular adaptation measures, in order to protect their land against possible negative impacts of climate change. Measures to increase water retention (such as, infiltration zones, buffer strips, hedges, terracing) were highly preferred, 80% of respondents perceived these measures as important.
The majority of respondents also supported the proposed extension of insurance, shifting the timing and organisation of agricultural practices, as well as crop diversification. Interestingly, crop diversification marks a potential willingness to break with tradition of monoculture hop farming, and could be considered a suitable adaptation strategy.
Eliška Krkoška Lorencová, email@example.com
The full report of this case study can be read here.
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