Submitted to: International Soil Conservation Organization Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/23/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Climate models indicate that by the year 2050 average annual temperatures in the Midwestern U.S. may increase around 8 degrees F and average annual rainfall may increase, resulting in warmer, wetter conditions. Perhaps less predictable weather patterns will emerge, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events such as heavy downpours of precipitation, late season frosts, and droughts. For example, July rainfall may increase 20% and might come in just two rainfall events. This study combines expertise from several disciplinary areas with modeling strategies to assess the impact of global climate change on Midwestern agriculture. Predictions of warmer summers, wetter springs, and more extreme events indicate that the cropping system may need to be adjusted to effectively conserve soil, maintain timely planting, avoid early season frost damage, and take advantage of warmer growing conditions. Climate projections, crop growth models (DSSAT), expert panel discussions, and farm level decision models (PCLP) are used to study some of the choices farmers will have. Some options to be evaluated include altering the crop mix, changing time of planting, and planting genetically improved seed. Planting of cover crops and reducing the amount of tillage performed may also be viable alternatives to reduce the amount soil loss resulting from more intense storm events. This paper will address some of the key findings from the project, and emphasize the extent to which extreme events under climate change raise special concerns about soil erosion. It will offer insights into the conditions which may facing Midwestern farms and offer alternatives for preserving the quality of the soil resource and remaining competitive in the world market.