Extreme weather trends put pressure on farmers to be prepared

  • 09/01/2019

An "alarming trend" of extreme temperatures and weather events means farmers need plans in place to act in the event of freak weather, says the Federated Farmers vice-president.

On Tuesday, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) announced that 2018 had been the second-equal hottest year on record, with "extreme temperatures" and several storms.

The average temperature hit 13.41degC - the highest average behind only 2016 - and climate change is being blamed for the heat.

"Overall there were 73 high maximum and minimum temperature extremes, while only one low maximum extreme occurred," NIWA says.

The issue of climate change is also one farmers are struggling with, with Federated Farmers wanting to see more innovative solutions to reduce fossil fuels.

But Vice-president Andrew Hoggard said it is difficult to find eco-friendly alternatives for their products.

"There are a few scientific breakthroughs that need to occur to enable us to farm without fossil fuels…We rely on fossil fuels in terms of vehicles," said Mr Hoggard.

He is also urging farmers to put in place contingency plans as intense weather becomes more frequent.

"That will require a bit of resilience from farmers in terms of having action plans in how to deal with that," said Mr Hoggard.

Parts of southern Canterbury had well above normal rainfall (over 149 percent of normal). Above normal rainfall was also recorded in Wellington, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Wairarapa, parts of the upper South Island and the Waikato.

NIWA forecaster Chris Brandolino said increased temperatures are a part of a larger trend for New Zealand, with January the warmest month ever recorded.