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Towards stability of food production and farm income in a variable climate

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Francisco ArealORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Stable food production is vital for food security. Stability of farm income is also necessary to ensure the sustainability of food production and to protect livelihoods, in a changing climate. We analyse the relative effects of climate variability, subsidies and farming practices on the stability of food production and farm income. We examine farms in England and Wales between 2005 and 2017, and link farms to climate data at a sub-regional scale. Our results show that variability in temperature and rainfall reduces the stability of farm income and food production. While variability in climate can be largely outside of the farmers control our findings indicate that, under current conditions, farm management can have a larger effect on stability than climate. We identified three key aspects of farm management and policy that improve stability: i) increasing agricultural diversity, ii) increasing the efficiency of agrochemical use and iii) agri-environmental management. These management practices have previously been associated with benefits to natural ecosystems and may therefore increase the stability of agriculture whilst reducing negative impacts of farming on the environment. We also found differences in effect size of climate impacts and adaptation options between farm types, emphasising the need for flexible agricultural policies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harkness C, Areal FJ, Semenov MA, Senapati N, Shield IF, Bishop J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecological Economics

Year: 2023

Volume: 204

Issue: Part A

Print publication date: 01/02/2023

Online publication date: 24/11/2022

Acceptance date: 08/11/2022

Date deposited: 09/11/2022

ISSN (print): 0921-8009

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6106

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2022.107676


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