Agriculture’s Adjustments to Climate Change

by Paige Losee

Climate change is a global issue which impacts many different aspects of human life and the planet. One area which issues have come about due to climate change is agriculture. Adjustments have or will need to be made to areas of agriculture as a result of changes or predicted changes in temperature, weather, and sea level as a result of climate change and higher greenhouse gas emissions. 

One issue associated with climate change in some areas is an increase in air temperature. Higher temperatures may correlate with the increase of weeds, insects and fungal pests due to milder winter temperatures. In order to combat this, farmers may need to increase their use of pesticides in order to maintain or even increase production levels as explained in the article USDA Research on Climate Change, Effects of Warmer Winters published in PLOS ONE.

While some crop yields may suffer from this change in temperature, the opposite can also be true. Another article, Potatoes Could Step Up Performance under Climate Change Pressure, describes how higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels may actually increase potato production. Different crops could be affected in a variety of ways by a change in temperature depending on their optimal temperature and nutrient levels, which also is affected by precipitation levels. 

Another way climate change could affect agriculture is changes in precipitation; both extremes could have severe impacts on crops. Droughts and

flooding are historically shown to both drop corn yields drastically as shown in the graph. The article Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply | Climate Change Impacts goes into more detail of how precipitation levels may impact crops and what adjustments may be able to help lessen these impacts. For example, in some areas facing drought, irrigation could be used to help supply water to the crops if a water source is available. On the other hand, going along with increased temperature increased precipitation levels provide a climate in which weeds, fungi, and other pests thrive. This again could be combated with increased pesticide usage, but an increase in this may cause other problems such as contamination or pollution of water in the environment in which they are used. Pesticides may also cause harm to humans and have been linked to cancer, as well as the impacts shown in the image.

Climate change and its effects on temperature, precipitation, and carbon dioxide levels have the potential to cause problems and induce changes in multiple aspects of our lives, including agriculture.

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