By Loren Lindler
DTN News Intern
OMAHA (DTN) — This twice-monthly column condenses the latest news in the field of crop technology, research and products.
UNEVEN EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON FOOD PRODUCTION
Researchers from the University of Minnesota, with help from researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Copenhagen, have seen firsthand some of the effects of climate change on global food production. They released a study showing climate change is already affecting production in the world’s top 10 crops and energy sources, although the effects are geographically uneven.
In the study led by University of Minnesota scientist Deepak Ray, researchers determined barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat are in for a wild ride for years to come as the climate continues to change. With the uneven effects of these changes, some regions are coming out on top while others are faring much worse.
You can see the study here: https://journals.plos.org/….
HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE
Climate change yield effects are relatively positive in North and Central America, Latin America and Asia, whereas Australia, Southern Africa, and Europe are seeing generally negative impacts, the researchers concluded. Half of all food-insecure countries are among those experiencing climate-related crop yield losses.
As for the Midwest, rising temperatures allowed some yield increases in certain crops, including corn, sorghum, soybeans and sugarcane. On the other hand, barley, rice and wheat decreased in yields. Other regions are seeing consistent yield losses, including parts of the southern and eastern U.S.
You can read more about the University of Minnesota study here: https://twin-cities.umn.edu/….
The U.S. stands as one of the top soybean producers in the world. A previous study on climate change impacts on soybean production, published in 2015, argued that some new climate patterns may actually be suppressing U.S. soybean yields. With most of the soybean production focused in the Midwest and most of the region not irrigated, producers rely heavily on weather patterns. The researchers concluded that soybean growers in the U.S. have lost $11 billion in yields over two decades from increased temperatures and precipitation variation because of climate change.
Wheat production may also be seeing negative effects from climate change. A recent study led by Mississippi State University ag economist Jesse Tack concluded that high temperatures in the spring and more freezes in the fall have lowered wheat yields. Also, many new wheat varieties are not well-equipped for higher temperatures.
BACKBONE OF THE STUDY
By studying the top 10 global crops around the world where they are commonly harvested, the Minnesota researchers were able to connect the puzzle between harvested crop yields and weather. The study consisted of two data sets: climate and weather, and crop yields and harvested areas. Researchers used the temperature and precipitation information from the Climate Research Unit (CRU), to study average seasonal and average annual weather conditions.
The study was built around a 15-parameter equation relating crop yields to weather variables. With these findings, researchers can conclude which areas and crops are most at risk. Research such as this allows researchers to see the impacts that global food production is now facing, so that they can determine where it is heading in the future.
Loren Lindler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @Loren_Lindler
© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.