Continued lack of rainfall mounts pressure on eastern Germany’s farmers
Eastern Germany is grappling with the effects of several years of very little rainfall that could severely impact the region’s agricultural productivity, Matthias Kamann writes for newspaper Die Welt. After three consecutive years of droughts between 2018 and 2020, this year again has brought little precipitation to the region so far, meaning soils are dry up to nearly two metres below the surface, a situation that researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research call “exceptional,” Kamann writes. The farmers’ association of the state of Brandenburg said the region would need at least an entire week of intense rainfall to save many of this year’s crops, which appears unlikely.
Energy crops like corn and turnip could be especially affected by the looming drought, whereas Germany's wheat production is not in danger, as soils in most other parts of the country do not suffer from a lack of water. However, states like Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Berlin are also worried about possible wildfires and have announced plans to improve the states’ water management, including the use of crops that require less irrigation and restrictions on water extraction. The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) called on Green Party agriculture minister Cem Özdemir to advocate the use of genetically modified crops at the EU level to ensure farmers can use plants that are more suitable for dry conditions.
Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) already warned last year that eastern Germany would likely bear the brunt of drier weather conditions in the country in the next years. Extreme droughts and heatwaves in 2018 and 2019 have greatly raised awareness of climate change impacts across Germany and measures to adapt to warmer temperatures and regional extreme weather events are increasingly seen as indispensable alongside emissions reduction efforts.