Risks and opportunities for agriculture

Periods of sustained heat and drought pose major challenges for agricultural production. More frequent natural events can result in economic losses. Milder temperatures generally have a positive effect and offer new opportunities for cultures requiring warmth.

Close-up of a meadow with sparse vegetation cover. The bare soil is riddled with cracks caused by prolonged drought.
© Agroscope (Gabriela Brändle)

The following overview shows the most important risks and opportunities for agriculture based on the Confederation’s climate change assessment completed in 2017. Risks and opportunities for individual parts of the country are addressed in the section Major regions. Information on risks and opportunities for farm animals can be found in the sector Health

[R] Risks of climate change
[C] Opportunities due to climate change
[?] Areas for which a clear assessment is not yet possible

[R] Decreased crop yields

  • Decrease in local production potential and decreasing yields due to drought
  • Production losses and additional costs for the control of harmful organisms
  • Damage to plants due to heat, periods of increased air pollution and irrigation (burns)
  • New production risks due to shifts between the period of activity of pollinators and crops associated with flowering (e.g., fruit, canola)

[R] Damage to agricultural land as well as yield losses due to flood and landslides

  • Loss of fertile soil through erosion and leaching of nutrients
  • Contaminating agricultural soils with pollutants during flooding

[R] More frequent scarcity of water during dry periods

  • Increased conflicting goals about the use of water between conservation and agriculture (irrigation)

[C] Positive effects on agriculture

  • Increased yields thanks to rising mean temperatures and a longer growth period
  • New or improved production potential (e.g., for plants requiring warmth)

[?] Uncertain impacts

  • Increase or decrease in damage to agricultural crops and greenhouses caused by storms and hail 

Further information


Agricultural Report (german), Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG, 3003 Berne.

Fuhrer, J. and Gregory, P. (eds.), 2014: Climate Change Impact and Adaptation in Agricultural Systems. CAB International, Wallingford, 285 pp.

Hillel, D., and Rosenzweig, C. (eds), 2010: Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems - Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation. World Scientific, 485 pp.

Last modification 22.11.2018

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