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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322059

Research Project: ADAPTING SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF A CHANGING CLIMATE

Location: Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research

Title: Climate vulnerabilities in the southern plains

Author
item Steiner, Jean
item Schneider, Jeanne - Retired Ars Employee
item Pope, Clay - Non Ars Employee
item Pope, Sarah - Non Ars Employee
item Ford, Paulette - Us Forest Service (FS)
item Steel, Rachel - Us Department Of Agriculture (USDA)

Submitted to: The Regional Impacts of Climate Change An Assessment of Vulnerability
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2015
Publication Date: 10/16/2015
Citation: Steiner, J.L., Schneider, J.M., Pope, C., Pope, S., Ford, P., Steel, R. 2015. Climate vulnerabilities in the southern plains. The Regional Impacts of Climate Change An Assessment of Vulnerability. Available: http://climatehubs.oce.usda.gov/sites/default/files/Southern%20Plains%20VA%20Summary.pdf.

Interpretive Summary: The value of agricultural production in the Southern Plains exceeded $59 bil (2012 Agricultural Census) with livestock accounting for 58% of total agricultural sales. Crop and livestock commodities exceeding $1 bil include wheat, corn, horticultural crops, cotton, hay and forages, sorghum, soybean, beef cattle, poultry and eggs, dairy, and swine. In particular, the region contributes significantly to the nation’s wheat and beef production. Winter wheat is the principal rainfed annual crop, much of it dual-use as cool-season forage in addition to grain production. Cattle are raised on pasture and rangelands across the region. Corn is the primary irrigated crop in the Ogallala Aquifer area. Horticultural crops and cotton are increasingly important in the southern portion of the region, while corn and soybean are more important in the northern part of the region. In addition, the Southern Plains is home to a large percentage of the nation’s grasslands which provide additional benefits to the region, and has extensive forests in the southeast. This region is subject to numerous climate related hazards and vulnerabilities, including: longer, warmer growing seasons with increased vulnerability to late season frost; increased extreme weather events (e.g., downpours and droughts, heatwaves and cold snaps) and continued violent storm events (ice, hail, wind, tornadic activity); greater frequency, duration, and intensity of drought; increasing wildfire conditions; declining groundwater aquifer levels; increasing pest, disease, and weed pressure ;increasing heat stress on plants and livestock; and vegetation shifts that may impact species of concern such as pollinators. Key adaptation and mitigation strategies include: increase soil health through conversion to no-till production, incorporation of cover crops and enhanced soil and residue management; implement adaptive grazing management and improve health of pasture and grazing lands soils; develop heat, frost, and drought resistant cultivars and heat tolerant livestock; increase irrigation efficiency (i.e., more crop per drop); and improve energy and water efficiency of agriculture systems and rural communities. Priorities for the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub include: education and outreach, including engaging with partners on soil health demonstration plots and producer field days; facilitation of research on benefits of adaption and mitigation strategies and the methods to encourage the adoption of these strategies; and highlight success stories in adaptation and mitigation by farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

Technical Abstract: The value of agricultural production in the Southern Plains exceeded $59 bil (2012 Agricultural Census) with livestock accounting for 58% of total agricultural sales. Crop and livestock commodities exceeding $1 bil include wheat, corn, horticultural crops, cotton, hay and forages, sorghum, soybean, beef cattle, poultry and eggs, dairy, and swine. In particular, the region contributes significantly to the nation’s wheat and beef production. Winter wheat is the principal rainfed annual crop, much of it dual-use as cool-season forage in addition to grain production. Cattle are raised on pasture and rangelands across the region. Corn is the primary irrigated crop in the Ogallala Aquifer area. Horticultural crops and cotton are increasingly important in the southern portion of the region, while corn and soybean are more important in the northern part of the region. In addition, the Southern Plains is home to a large percentage of the nation’s grasslands which provide additional benefits to the region, and has extensive forests in the southeast. This region is subject to numerous climate related hazards and vulnerabilities, including: longer, warmer growing seasons with increased vulnerability to late season frost; increased extreme weather events (e.g., downpours and droughts, heatwaves and cold snaps) and continued violent storm events (ice, hail, wind, tornadic activity); greater frequency, duration, and intensity of drought; increasing wildfire conditions; declining groundwater aquifer levels; increasing pest, disease, and weed pressure ;increasing heat stress on plants and livestock; and vegetation shifts that may impact species of concern such as pollinators. Key adaptation and mitigation strategies include: increase soil health through conversion to no-till production, incorporation of cover crops and enhanced soil and residue management; implement adaptive grazing management and improve health of pasture and grazing lands soils; develop heat, frost, and drought resistant cultivars and heat tolerant livestock; increase irrigation efficiency (i.e., more crop per drop); and improve energy and water efficiency of agriculture systems and rural communities. Priorities for the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub include: education and outreach, including engaging with partners on soil health demonstration plots and producer field days; facilitation of research on benefits of adaption and mitigation strategies and the methods to encourage the adoption of these strategies; and highlight success stories in adaptation and mitigation by farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.