Farmers Face Climate Problem

In the wake of the worst drought in more than 50 years, farmers across the country are realizing that they may face an increasingly difficult climate problem that may require them to radically alter traditional farm practices.

Last year saw farmers across the country struggling with the worst drought in recent memory. From California to Ohio, record high temperatures and record low precipitation pummeled farmers. As a result, crops across the country withered in the fields. Despite the end of the summer, many parts of the country are still experiencing severe drought conditions.

Recent scientific studies suggest that these weather extremes may not be a temporary anomaly. With evidence increasingly mounting that climate change is a real phenomenon, many farmers are being forced to consider radical changes to tradition production norms.

Environmental groups are claiming that in order to prevent massive crop failure in future arid conditions, farmers will need to embrace sustainable agricultural practices that make the most efficient use of natural resources. Shifting away from the dominance of corn production, for example, and the use of rotating crop cycles could help soil maintain and restore vital nutrients and better absorb water. Embracing organic farming and shrinking the size of farms could reduce farmers’ ecological footprint and could help absorb greenhouse gases.

While some farmers have expressed reluctance towards embracing new sustainable farming practices, others have seen the writing on the wall. According to the National Climate Assessment, the government’s 1,146-page report released last week, “The rising incidence of weather extremes will have increasingly negative impacts on crop and livestock productivity because critical thresholds are already being exceeded.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer