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Title: How will Climate Change Affect Agriculture over the Next 10-30 Years

item Hatfield, Jerry

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/22/2008
Publication Date: 2/22/2008
Citation: Hatfield, J.L. 2008. How will Climate Change Affect Agriculture over the Next 10-30 Years [CD-ROM]. In: 84th Agricultural Outlook Forum, February 21-22, 2008, Washington, DC.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Agriculture is dependent upon the climate resources of temperature, sunlight, precipitation, and carbon dioxide. Efficient production depends upon optimum conditions of temperature and water supply and changes in these climatic variables will affect plant and animal systems over the next 10- 30 years. The direct and indirect impacts of climate on agriculture could have large impacts on agricultural production. There are several examples of these impacts that demonstrate the complexity of this problem. Increasing variability in precipitation will cause uncertainty in the amount of water available during the year which could negatively impact plant production and have a profound effect on pasture and hay supplies for cattle or grain supplies for all livestock. However, it is not easy to predict the within season patterns which will have the largest effect on crop production. Rising temperatures over the next 30 years will have an impact on crop yield because of the impacts of temperatures that are above optimal during the pollination stage in all crops. Occurrences of these temperatures will cause yield reductions which could be further decreased by shortages of water for optimal plant growth. Although, there is increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere that promotes greater plant growth the increases in temperature will offset some of these gains. These effects will be noticeable in grain, forage, fiber, and fruit crops. In rangeland systems there have been detectable shifts in the species composition of these areas due to changes in growth patterns linked to competition differences. In animal production systems the increases in temperature will negatively impact production because of the potential events that are above the optimal limits for animals. This can affect all aspects of animal production, e.g., rate of gain, milk production, and conception rates. Climate impacts on agriculture have to be recognized; however, there are management practices that can alleviate some of the negative impacts. Producers will have to be aware of these options and understand the value of adopting practices based on environmental factors relative to production risks.