More than 70 per cent of farmers have already seen large impacts of climate change on their farm, new global research from Farmer Voice survey reveals

New research has found that climate change is putting pressure on farmers, with many worried about the consequences this will have in future.

Generic farmer with green beans

Image: Adobe Stock

According to the Farmer Voice survey, 71 per cent of farmers said that climate change had already had a large impact on their farm, with 73 per cent experiencing increasing pest and disease pressure.

On average farmers estimated that their incomes had fallen by 15.7 per cent due to climate change in the past two years, while one in six farmers identified income losses of over 25 per cent during the period.

These were some of the key findings in the Farmer Voice survey, which revealed the challenges facing farmers around the world as they try to mitigate the impacts of climate change and adapt for the future.

Worldwide survey

To conduct the survey, Bayer commissioned an agency to independently interview 800 farmers globally, representing farms large and small from Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Kenya, Ukraine and the US in equal numbers.

Farmers expect the repercussions of climate change to continue. Three-quarters of them globally (76 per cent) said they were worried about the impact that climate change would have on their farm, with farmers in Kenya and India most concerned.

“Farmers are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change on their fields and at the same time they play a key role in tackling this huge challenge,” said Rodrigo Santos, member of the board of management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division. ”This is why it is so important to put their voice front and centre.

”The losses reported in this survey make the direct threat climate change poses to global food security crystal clear. In the face of a growing world population, the results must be a catalyst for efforts to make agriculture regenerative.”

Economic challenges

While climate change is a dominant overarching theme, economic challenges were seen as the biggest priority over the next three years.

Over half (55 per cent) of farmers placed fertiliser costs among the top three challenges, followed by energy costs (47 per cent), price and income volatility (37 per cent), and the cost of crop protection (36 per cent).

The importance of fertiliser costs were most apparent in Kenya, India, and Ukraine, the survey found.

In Ukraine, 70 per cent of farmers named fertiliser costs as one of the top three challenges, showing that the concrete materialised consequences of the war posed big pressures on farmers in the country.

In addition, 40 per cent named general disruption due to the war as a top challenge.

Apart from that Ukrainian farmers shared many of the same characteristics as their global peers, for example more than three-quarters (77 per cent) stated that climate change had already largely impacted their farm.

Future planning

More than 80 per cent of surveyed farmers were already taking or planning to take steps to apply measures that contribute to reducing greenhouse gases.

The top focus areas were using cover crops (43 per cent do so already or intend to do so), using renewable energy or biofuels (37 per cent) and using innovative seeds to reduce fertiliser or crop protection use (33 per cent).

Alongside this, every single farmer surveyed claimed to already applied or was planning to apply measures to help biodiversity.

Over half (54 per cent) said they already applied measures to protect insects, such as insect hotels, or planned to do so in the next three years.

To be ready for the future, farmers said that they valued innovation. Over half (53 per cent) of them said access to seeds and traits designed to better cope with extreme weather would most benefit their farm.

A similar number (50 per cent) called for better crop protection technology. 42 per cent said that better access to irrigation technology would benefit their farm.

Looking at their practices, improving efficient land use, diversifying crops, and better soil health were ranked as the most important routes to success.

Agreement on global challenges

Overall, the Farmer Voice survey showed that farmers around the world largely shared a common view about the challenges of today and the prospects for the future.

While there are slight differences between countries, the overarching issues of climate change and economic pressures was of similar concern to all.

“Farmers are facing multiple and related challenges. But despite this, we found that they are hopeful – almost three-quarters say they feel positive about the future of farming in their country,” said Santos.

“This is impressive and encouraging. The views expressed by farmers in the report need to be widely seen and understood.

”They are a call to action for the entire food system to innovate, collaborate, and deliver the solutions farmers need – and we as Bayer are eager to play a leading role in these efforts,” he added. “There is little time to waste.”