Recently, we visited Italian farms participating in the SOLMACC project in order to discuss the implementation of climate-friendly practices with them. In the discussion with one farmer, a wine and olive grower in the Tuscany region, we realised how strong this year's climate irregularities affected farming. In springtime when the olive trees blossomed, it was too hot for proper fruit setting. During summertime, it was unusually wet and cool and the few olives hanging in the trees suffered from diseases and remained relatively small with very low fruit quality. Likewise, the grapes were affected by the abnormal weather conditions and finally needed to be harvested in an earlier stage due to a
strong infestation with sour rot – not the best conditions for a great vintage. And even the surrounding cereal crops were unable to deliver a decent harvest due to bad weather conditions this year.
It is certainly debatable whether this year's strange weather is a direct consequence of the ongoing climate change or just a freak of nature. But in talks with the grower it became clear that for him, climate change with unusual weather has become commonplace, although not every year for the worse like this year.
For the grower, the experience of this bad harvest in 2014 shows once again that climate change with unusual weather conditions is not just an academic discussion but a reality with strong implications for farming even today. And this is one major reason for him to willingly participate in the SOLMACC project and to take action to prepare his farming practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Klaus-Peter Wilbois & Andreas Gattinger
Scientific Coordinators SOLMACC