Submitted to: Agronomy Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/9/2018
Publication Date: 11/4/2018
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2018. Whole-farm dynamics of forage and grazinglands in a changing climate[abstract]. Agronomy Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America Meeting. 1.
Interpretive Summary: No interpretive summary is required for this Abstract. JLB.
Technical Abstract: General Circulation Models are used to study our climate and to project changes that may occur due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Although there is variation among the many models available, the climate in North America is projected to get warmer throughout this century with greater increases in temperature in the northern US and Canada. Annual precipitation may also increase in these more northern regions, but much of this benefit may be offset by greater evapotranspiration due to the warmer temperatures. In addition, the increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere stimulates the growth of many crops, particularly forage crops. These projected changes primarily affect crop growth and development, but they also affect days suitable for fieldwork, the timing of field operations, harvest losses and quality changes, animal stress and performance, and the loss of nutrients cycling through the farm. By linking a process-based farm model such as the Integrated Farm System Model with General Circulation Models, we can predict the impacts of climate on the performance, economics and environmental impacts of farming systems. Strategies can also be tested to find more optimal production practices adapted to the changing climate. Simulations indicate that forage production may be increased by 5-15% by mid-century in northern regions through increased yields with a longer growing season and more harvests per year. However, warmer temperatures and more intense storms lead to greater nutrient losses to the environment. Taking advantage of the longer growing season by double cropping a winter rye or triticale silage crop with corn silage can provide even greater increases in annual forage production while reducing nutrient losses and increasing farm profitability. Models such as these can help us plan and adapt to our changing climate, assuring sustainable farming systems for our future.