Research needed to improve crop adaptation to changing climates
Participants in the DTN/The Progressive Farm Summit echoed similar concerns. A DTN article by Chris Clayton writes that “Charles Walthall, national program leader for climate change at the USDA Agricultural Research Service….told farmers about some of the issues USDA is examining as part of an updated national study on climate change set to be released in 2013. Changes in temperature, precipitation and carbon dioxide will lead to adjustments in crop production, cropping patterns and raising of livestock, USDA research shows….‘that puts a lot of stress on human beings, crops, animals, equipment,’ Walthall said.
“Other problems can come from additional carbon dioxide in the air leading to more invasive species, insects and pathogens. Weeds respond aggressively to higher carbon dioxide levels.
“‘We have not bred the variety of crops to take advantage of higher carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,’ Walthall said. ‘Weeds, in their genetic freedom, for a large part have. That’s why we are seeing larger, stronger weeds and vines.’”
The concern for heavy rainfall events noted by Hanciles of Sierra Leone was discussed by South Dakota Climatologist Dennis Todey who told the Ag Summit audience, “‘More [precipitation] is occurring in heavier rainfall events, which, from a production standpoint is not a good thing….More soil erosion, more soil loss, it doesn't improve your bottom line by adding more moisture if it’s running off.’
“Walthall also touched on the lack of emphasis on erosion. ‘This is something that does not get enough attention from my perspective,’ Walthall said. ‘The high-intensity, short-duration events as we know have massive implications for erosion.’”
While farmers in the US have more resources to deal with the impact of climate change, the problems and challenges they face are shared with farmers around the world. Given that, it appears that meeting these challenges will take a global response as well.