Research into local vulnerabilities in agriculture

Vale of Evesham


  • Agriculture
  • Drought
  • UK

Vale of Evesham worked with Cranfield University, funded by the Environment Agency, on a study to assess the impacts of climate change on outdoor horticultural production.

In detail


An area of intense outdoor horticultural production prone to drought.

Main players & partners

  • Environment Agency
  • Cranfield University


The study focused on horticultural businesses in the Vale of Evesham, an area of intense outdoor horticultural production.

Impacts of climate change on the depths of irrigation applied and on volumetric water demand were assessed.

The Environment Agency also worked with local farmers to make them aware of future climate change and to discuss possible adaptation options.


The study showed that the water needed for irrigating typical crops in the area will increase by up to 20% by the 2020s, 50% for the 2050s and 84% by the 2080s.

The crops most impacted are:

  • potatoes
  • field-scale vegetables
  • small fruit production.


Strengths & enablers

The study highlights that the ‘do nothing’ option is unacceptable, for both farmers and the environment. The study outlined some of the practical adaptation options for reducing drought risk.


The estimates do not include the impacts of any increases in the size of areas cultivated due to changes in socio-economic policy. Nor do they take account of the impact of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on fertilisation and hence water use and crop productivity.

There is a degree of uncertainty in all climate change scenarios, particularly in relation to precipitation, where changes in extreme events may be as important as gradual changes.

Lessons learned

Working in partnership with experts such as the EA can highlight the need for adaptation actions and initiate dialogue with affected businesses.