3/11/24 · Economy

How does climate change impact generational renewal in Spanish agriculture?

A UOC researcher will be heading a study on the issue of farm successions and the role played in it by climate change
Man in a rural field with a vegetable box at sunset represents country life food production

Farmer in the field (Foto: ADOBE Stock)

The lack of generational renewal in farming in the western world has a significant cultural, socio-economic and environmental knock-on effect (in terms of degradation of the landscape, an increased risk of wildfires, the propagation of uncontrolled pests and a loss of biocultural diversity and local ecological knowledge). This has led to support for generational renewal being made one of the nine key objectives proposed by the European Commission to guide legislative ideas for the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Although this lack of renewal is often cited as one of the great future challenges facing Western agriculture, and specifically that of Spain, there are few studies assessing the current causes of this large-scale problem. UOC researcher Lucía Argüelles will be heading the research project Generational Replacement in Spanish Agriculture: Identifying Farm Desertion Hotspots (GRANGE), which has the goal of assessing the factors that lead to this issue, with a particular focus on the role played in it by climate change. "Understanding the connections between ecological and socio-economic factors and their impact on generational renewal and farm succession is essential when it comes to designing policies that could reverse this trend," noted Argüelles.

The project seeks to gain a better understanding of the influences that climate change and generational renewal have on one another: on the one hand, climate change makes agriculture more difficult (for some crops and regions, at least) while, on the other, traditional farming know-how is crucial in adapting our agri-food systems to deal with climate change. "GRANGE will develop indices for measuring vulnerability to agricultural land abandonment, on the basis of the differences between crops. Furthermore, it'll identify the critical agricultural land abandonment points across all of Spain: in other words, areas highly vulnerable to land abandonment and the loss of traditional know-how," explained this expert in agri-food systems and researcher at the UOC's IN3 Turba Lab group.

The project aims to contribute, with its results, to the design of innovative policies at a different scale to tackle the complex challenges facing farmers, so as to guarantee successful generational renewal. At the same time, it seeks to increase understanding around the changing and challenging dynamics of Spain's agriculture systems.



The project's stages

This project, funded by La Caixa and with a term of two years, consists of three stages. The first stage comprises the identification, through an analysis of different studies and fieldwork in seven regions of Spain, of the factors permitting adaptation and generational renewal. Quantitative and spatial data associated with these factors will also be gathered. A second stage will create indices to gauge vulnerability to agricultural land abandonment, taking into account differences between crops. The third and final stage will involve working with regional and national stakeholders to explore policies and actions that could reduce this vulnerability.



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