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ARS Home » Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #284361

Research Project: Headquarters Cooperative Programs - Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems (NRSAS))

Location: Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems

Title: Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation

item Walthall, Charles
item Hatfield, Jerry
item MARSHALL, ELIZABETH - Economic Research Serivce (ERS, USDA)
item LENGNICK, LAURA - Warren Wilson College
item BACKLUND, PETER - National Center For Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
item Adkins, Scott
item Ainsworth, Elizabeth - Lisa
item Booker, Fitzgerald
item Blumenthal, Dana
item Bunce, James
item Burkey, Kent
item Dabney, Seth
item Goodrich, David - Dave
item Lewers, Kimberly
item Nearing, Mark
item Ort, Donald
item Pettigrew, William
item Polley, Herbert
item Rosskopf, Erin
item Srygley, Robert
item Ziska, Lewis
item Delgado, Jorge
item Funk, Andrew
item Glenn, David
item Morgan, Jack
item White, Jeffrey
item Timlin, Dennis
item McClung, Anna

Submitted to: Government Publication/Report
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/28/2012
Publication Date: 2/15/2013
Citation: Walthall, C.L., Hatfield, J.L., Marshall, E., Lengnick, L., Backlund, P., Adkins, S.T., Ainsworth, E.A., Booker, F.L., Blumenthal, D.M., Bunce, J.A., Burkey, K.O., Dabney, S.M., Goodrich, D.C., Lewers, K.S., Nearing, M.A., Ort, D.R., Pettigrew, W.T., Polley, H.W., Rosskopf, E.N., Srygley, R.B., Ziska, L.H., Delgado, J.A., Funk, A.J., Glenn, D.M., Morgan, J.A., White, J.W., Timlin, D.J., Mcclung, A.M. 2013. Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaption. Washington, DC: USDA Technical Bulletin 1935. 186 p.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: This document is a synthesis of science literature on the effects of climate change on agriculture and issues associated with agricultural adaptation to climate change. Information is presented on how long-term changes in air temperatures, precipitation, and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide will affect crop production, livestock production, natural resources, the agricultural economy, and sociological networks that support farming communities. The publication provides an overview of how changes in climate affect both biotic and abiotic aspects of agricultural production. Abiotic components include air temperature, the hydrologic cycle, atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone levels, and factors that can limit the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface, such as cloud cover and ambient particulate matter concentrations. Biotic components include weeds and invasive species that can compete with crops and overrun productive farmlands and rangelands; insect pests, pathogen diversity, migration, and evolution; and threats to insect pollinators. The report also details how adaptations in current agricultural practices will enable farmers to continue crop and animal production in ways that partially offset the negative direct and indirect effects of climate changes—and even take advantage of new opportunities that may result. These adaptations could include altering planting dates, using more water-efficient crops, supplementing precipitation shortfalls with irrigation, and altering tillage practices. Livestock producers, in turn, could focus on breeding and maintaining animals that can tolerate higher temperatures, have more natural resistance to pests, and can meet their dietary needs with existing vegetation. An important message is that adaptation will require a balance of new crop and livestock types and new management strategies that enable production while providing stewardship of soil resources. Discussions are included on how to support effective decision-making for future climate scenarios across multiple dimensions of the U.S. agricultural system, and the need for climate information and near-term forecasts that is scaled appropriately to ensure their relevance for local and regional decision-making, and strategic planning. At the same time, regional and national near-term and longer-term climate projections will be needed for effective research, development, and adaptation planning and policy-making by state and federal governments and agribusiness. More complete modeling/simulation systems will allow scientists to study how a diverse and simultaneous range of environmental and sociological stressors might interfere with the U.S. agricultural system. This document provides technical reference material for the 2013 National Climate Assessment Report.