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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: Agriculture in the Midwest

item Hatfield, Jerry

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2012
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Agriculture in the Midwest United States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) represents one of the most intense areas of agriculture in the world. This area is not only critically important for the United States, but also for world exports of grain and meat for the United States economy. Impact of climate on agricultural production in the Midwest varies among years particularly in grain, vegetable, and fruit production. Climate impacts on production are detectable throughout the history of observations in the United States. There is another trend which is noteworthy in these observations related to the rapid and steady increase in annual production for crops beginning after the mid-1940’s with the introduction of commercial fertilizers and enhanced genetic materials. However, the introduction of improved agronomic practices has not alleviated the effect from large impacts caused by unfavorable weather during the growing season. Agriculture is a very fluid system and within annual crop production there is continual adaptation to adjust to the changing climate conditions. There are shifts in planting dates dictated by the precipitation amounts that occur each year. In order for producers to make large shifts in agronomic practices, e.g., maturity dates on crops, there would have to be a consistent pattern in the climate trends and events each year. Adaptation strategies for Midwest crop agriculture will have to include practices which protect the soil from erosion events while at the same time increasing the soil organic matter content through carbon sequestration via improved soil management. Adaptation of agricultural systems will occur through many different paths. Producers have readily adopted changes which entail changes in planting date, maturity selections; however, changing cropping systems to increase water availability in the soil via increases in organic matter content or reductions in soil water evaporation may be more difficult to implement. Adoption of improved nutrient management systems to prevent losses of nutrients either by leaching, runoff, or in the case of nitrogen fertilizers, nitrous oxide emissions, represent strategies to enhance crop performance under variable climates. There have been many proposed strategies for adaptation to climate change for annual crops; however, there may be fewer options for perennial crops. For livestock, adaptation strategies will typically involve some aspect of the housing facilities for animals and may entail a greater cost of implementation than in cropping systems.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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