The study – published in Climate Risk Management – examines the effect of climate change on the dairy and potato farming sectors over the next 30 to 50 years.

The research found that heat stress in dairy cattle is projected to increase significantly in key dairy regions of the UK, particularly the South West.

The study also covered the climate change impacts on the potato sector due to late blight, a disease affecting potato crops which occurs in warm, humid weather.

Dr Freya Garry, the author of the study, said: “Projections show potential for major climate change impacts on UK farming. Our study found that future dairy cattle in parts of the South East may be exposed to heat stress for an extra two months per year. At the moment, cattle in the South East experience around a week per year of these stressful conditions.”

The UK region with the largest herd of dairy cattle is the South West, where there are around 750,000 dairy cattle (according to the latest figures from Defra). The study shows that heat stress conditions are met around two-to-three days per year, but in the period 2051-2070, this could extend to around one month per year on average.

The study is based on a climate projection known as RCP 8.5: a high emissions future. The prediction is credible as mitigation efforts to achieve the more drastic greenhouse gas emissions representative of other pathways can’t be guaranteed, says the Met Office.

Dr Garry added: “Given the potentially serious consequences for UK farming, we felt it was appropriate to work with a high impact scenario. Even under lower emission pathways, we know that our climate will continue to change so even if the impacts are smaller than identified in this study, our study provides useful information for adaptation planning.”

On average the East of England and the South East England regions are likely to see the greatest number of days per year where cattle experience heat stress – around a month and a half on average across the region. Locally some areas in these regions, such as near London, will experience more days, while some areas will experience fewer.

Other regions of the UK which are likely to see prolonged periods of heat stress in dairy cattle are the West Midlands and the East Midlands, which may both see increases of heat stress conditions of around a month per year on average in the future climate using these projections.