Field-scale manipulation of soil temperature

by Alex Nuffer

Atmospheric CO2 has risen substantially due to an increase in fossil fuel combustion and the clearance of land for agriculture, significantly affecting global climate. Climate models predict that there will be an increase in temperature, as well as a change in precipitation patterns in the future. Variations in climate are likely to modify soil respiration and the soil carbon cycle, causing soil organic carbon to increase or decrease, which will either lead to a positive or negative feedback for atmospheric CO2. Poll et al. (2013) investigated the manipulation of various climate change factors on soil respiration and soil carbon cycle in an arable soil at field-scale in a temperate agricultural ecosystem. The experiment was established on an arable field, where temperature, precipitation amount, and frequency were manipulated to simulate various climate change scenarios. For two years CO2 efflux was measured weekly. Additionally, plant and soil microbial biomass were determined to accurately assess the effects of climate change factors on soil respiration. The results underlined the importance of soil water content to the response of ecosystems to climate change. There was a negative effect of increased soil temperature on soil moisture, which led to water limitation. Soil respiration and microbial biomass under increased soil temperatures were limited by water in the first year, but not in the second year. Altered precipitation showed only minor effects during the entire experiment. The study showed that the soil moisture regime under increased temperatures could determine whether soils are carbon sinks or sources. Continue reading

Effect of Variations in Climate on Agriculture in Northern Norway

by Alex Nuffer

The impact of climate change on agriculture varies among geographic areas largely because of soil properties, local climate, local and regional markets, management strategies, and agricultural tradition. In northern Norway, climate research has concluded that the main changes in regional climate include increasing temperatures, precipitation, and frequency of extreme weather events. These changes introduce new beneficial opportunities for agriculture through the introduction of new crops, increase of yield, and expansion of cultivation areas. Uleberg, Hanssen-Baur, van Oort, and Dalmanndsdottir (2013) assessed the impact of climate change on agriculture in six municipalities in northern Norway on plant production and animal husbandry, as well as presented possible adaptive strategies to harness the potential benefits from climate change. The study was based on downscaled climate projections for the different municipalities, along with interviews from farmers, key informants, and municipal administrators. The municipalities spanned across different climatic zones of Norway and included coastal, interior, Sub-Arctic, and Arctic. The authors discovered that the most influential challenges from variations in climate included unstable winters, increase of autumn precipitation, and increase in pathogens and weeds. Although these challenges pose threats to agriculture, the extension of the short growth season and higher growth temperatures bring forth new agricultural opportunities that could potentially be beneficial, as long as adaptation strategies tailor to these changes. Continue reading

Nigerian Yam Farmers Adaptation to Climate Change

by Alex Nuffer

Many farmers in the Ekiti State of Nigeria rely on the production of yams for their livelihood and food security. With the increasing rate of extreme weather events, such as flooding and drought, the productivity of the yams are unstable, which leads to crop failure. The yam farmers’ adaptation to climate change is essential in order to maintain their own and Ekiti’s well being. Strategies have been formulated to cope with changing climatic conditions, but are inhibited by lack of wealth, technology, education, infrastructure, resource availability, and sound management practices. There needs to be an effort on the national scale to make the farmers’ adaptation to climate change a top priority. Oluwasusi (2013) investigated the Ekiti State yam farmers’ ability to adapt to variations in the climate by assessing the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers, farmers’ constraints, farmers’ strategies to adaption, and the yam yield in the years 2008–2010. Continue reading

How to Reduce Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture

by Alex Nuffer

Increasing temperatures will negatively impact global crop yield unless agricultural practices change. There is evidence that yields of staple crops, such as wheat, soybeans, maize, rice, and barley, are much lower then they have been due to climate change. Although changes in agricultural practices are necessary, there are economic and political constraints that play a major role in farmers’ management decisions. In order to overcome these constraints farmers seek for the most beneficial solution that will maximize their crop-specific profit margin with the least amount of risk. Lehmann et al. (2013) used models to formulate optimal management decisions in winterwheat and grain maize production under different climate scenarios in Switzerland from a risk-averse farmer’s perspective. The bioeconomic model generated agricultural optimal solutions for winterwheat and grain maize production depending on the different variables and climate scenarios. From these solutions the authors concluded that adaptation to climate change, if economic constraints are taken into account, might not be sufficient to counteract the negative impacts on the crop yield from climate change, therefore a closing of the income gap is necessary to support producers.

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