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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #313372

Title: Adapting dairy farms to climate change

item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item Skinner, Robert
item STONER, ANNE - Texas Tech University
item HAYHOE, KATHARINE - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/22/2015
Publication Date: 8/30/2015
Citation: Rotz, C.A., Skinner, R.H., Stoner, A.M., Hayhoe, K. 2015. Adapting dairy farms to climate change. Proceedings Waste to Worth Conference, Seattle, Washington. p. 73053. Available at:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Climate change is projected to affect many aspects of dairy production. These aspects include the growing season length, crop growth processes, harvest timing and losses, heat stress on cattle, nutrient emissions and losses, and ultimately farm profitability. To assess the sensitivity of dairy farms to future climate variability, projections for higher and lower emission scenarios were downscaled from the National Center for Atmospheric Research Coupled Climate System Model version 4 (CCSM4) using the Asynchronous Regional Regression Model. The Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) was then used to simulate representative dairy farms over 25 year periods using recent historical weather and projected middle and end of century climate data. Base farms reflected current production practices in Southern Pennsylvania, Northern New York, Central Wisconsin, Southern Idaho, Central California, and Central Texas. Management changes to adapt the farms to future climate were explored by modifying crop varieties and planting and harvest dates. For the Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Idaho locations, double cropping of small grain silage and corn silage was included for the end of the century simulations. Responses to projected climate change varied across the six locations, but some common trends were found. For most locations, forage production improved with projected climate, but corn grain production decreased. Higher temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns increased gaseous emissions and nutrient losses from farms. For most scenarios, farm profitability was maintained through adaptations in management. This simulation study illustrates how climate and farm simulation models can provide valuable information for planning and adapting our farms to changing climate.