Farming Success in a Changing Climate


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Presentation from a Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies public forum on climate change by David Wolfe, Professor of Horticulture, Cornell University.

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Farming Success in a Changing Climate

  1. 1. Farming Success in a Changing ClimateDavid W. WolfeCornell
  2. 2. The Climate Is Always Changing . . .But Seldom Has The Pace of Change Been This Fast The New “Plant Hardiness Zone Map” Source:
  3. 3. It is not just weather instruments telling us the climate ischanging. The living world (plants, insects, birds and otheranimals) are responding to change. For example, in theNortheastern US…. Apples are blooming 8 days earlier than they were in the 1960sGrapes are blooming 6 Lilacs are blooming 4days earlier days earlier [Source: Wolfe DW et al. 2005. Internat J Biometeor 49:303-309.] National Phenology Network:
  4. 4. For farmers, gardeners, urban landscapes . . . Climate change might allow exploration of new crops and new markets,but will also bring with it increased weed, disease, and insect pressure,damaging summer heat stress, and new challenges for water management
  5. 5. The NY Finger Lakes wine industry may have already benefited from warmer winters,. . .(less vine and root damagein European wine grapes with lessfrequent -12 F winter temps)
  6. 6. The NY Finger Lakes wine industry may have already benefited from warmer winters,. . . BUT Expect the unexpected: More freeze damage in a warmer world? $$ millions of freeze damage to NY vineyards in 2003-04 and 2004-05 due to warm Decembers and inadequate winter “hardening” of buds and(less vine and root damage European wine grapes with lessfrequent -12 F winter temps)
  7. 7. More Frequent Summer Heat Stress and DroughtCrop yield and quality Heat stress and livestock
  8. 8. Warmer winters in NE = more pest pressureMany insects benefit: better overwintersurvival; more generations per season; Invasive weeds benefitnorthward expansion of range Flea beetle Kudzu Corn earworm
  9. 9. Days Below -4 F (dark orange= potential spread of Kudzu range) 2010-39 2040-69 2070-99 “Business as usual” Lower emissionsWolfe et al. 2008. MitgationAdaptation Strategies Global Change13:555-575.
  10. 10. Plants respond directly to rising CO2;Plants and soils sequester carbon Duke Forest North Carolina
  11. 11. Many plant species respond positively to rising CO2, but not all plants are equally desirablePoison ivy growth increase at Duke FACE ring = +149%, and more allergenic. (Mohan et al. 2006. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 103(24): 9086-9089).
  12. 12. And high CO2 reduces herbicide efficacy Ambient CO2 Future CO2 e.g. Ziska et al. Weed Science 2004(Ziska et al. 2004 Weed Sci 52:584-588; Ziska et al. 1999. Weed Sci 47:608-615.)
  13. 13. Water Management Challenges:a trend for more high rainfall events and flood damage
  14. 14. Water Management Challenges:Summer rainfall does not meet crop water needs (Potential Evapotranspiration, PET) today, and this will get worse as summers become warmer summer water deficits Historical data for Rochester, NY
  15. 15. Farmers will require new climate-baseddecision tools for strategic adaptation.  Is this “normal” bad weather or climate change??  Do I invest in a new drainage system?...  Or irrigation system?  Or both?  And when?
  16. 16. Agriculture AdaptationOn-farm •Adjust planting dates, crops and varieties •Develop new strategies for new pests, diseases and weeds •Improve irrigation and drainage capacity •Improve cooling capacity of livestock facilitiesBeyond the farm (e.g., university, government agency roles) •New decision tools to explore costs, risks, benefits, and strategic timing of adaptation •Develop new crop and livestock options •Improved delivery of real-time local weather data •Enhanced pest monitoring and regional IPM efforts •Disaster risk management and better crop insurance programs •Financial assistance for adaptation investments •Climate change policies that integrate economic, environmental and equity issues
  17. 17. Equity Issues:Will small family farms have the capital and strategic information to adapt?
  18. 18. Renewable Energyon the Farm
  19. 19. The Energy-Waste Management Challenge:Re-coupling animal and crop production systems to re-cycle nitrogen, carbon, energy
  20. 20. Cow Power Anaerobic Digester
  21. 21. Contributions of U.S. Agricultural Emissions fromThree Greenhouse Gases (CO2 equivalent basis) Agriculture accounts for about 7% of total US GHG emissions (US EPA 2009).
  22. 22. Farm Mitigation Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Sequester Soil Carbon Improve farm energy efficiency Produce and/or use renewable energy sources, including biofuel crops Improve N fertilizer and manure management Improve soil organic matter/C management  Reduce tillage  Winter cover cropping  Use of composts, manure, other OM amendments Many mitigation options are win-win:  Increase farmer profits  A new source of revenues if carbon markets develop  Environmental, food safety, and sustainability co-benefits
  23. 23. New approaches to N management: Linking models with weather forecastsCornell’s “Adapt-N” web-based nitrogenmanagement system(
  24. 24. COMET-Farm: On-line tool for estimating emissions reductions and carbon sequestration at farm-scale
  25. 25. New low-cost approaches to soil C measurement:“On-the-go” Visible Near Infrared (VNIR) methodology
  26. 26. An Uncertain Climate and Energy Future: Being Prepared Makes Good Business Sense David Wolfe, • Taking advantage of changing market opportunities • Strategic decisions regarding capital investments, such as: – New irrigation and drainage systems – Livestock facilities with adequate cooling capacity – Planting appropriate perennial fruit crop varieties • Anticipating new weed, disease, insect pests • Avoiding unintended consequences, such as: – Increased chemical loads to waterways – Undesirable land use change and degradation • Promoting policies that support farmer needs for adaptation and mitigation • Taking advantage of energy policy incentive programs or emerging carbon markets • Protecting national interests: ag economy, food prices, food security
  27. 27. AcknowledgementsCollaborators Websites:Climate Science www.climatechange.cornell.eduArt Degaetano, Lee Tryhorn, Radley www.northeastclimateimpacts.orgHorton, Katharine Hayhoe, Cynthia www.sap43.ucar.eduRosenzweig www.ipcc.chAgriculture and Natural ResourcesJonathan Comstock, Keith Paustian, SteveOgle, Peter Woodbury, Zia Ahmed, AlanLakso, Ian Merwin, Curt Petzoldt , LarryChase, Susan Riha, RebeccaSchneider, Holly Menninger, DavidWeinstein, Vern Grubinger,