A climate change researcher from Iowa State University is meeting with U.S.D.A. officials in Washington today for a briefing on the impact of climate change on agriculture. Gene Takle is the director of ISU’s Climate Science Program.
Takle says farmers and policy makers should both take steps to reduce global warming and to adapt to changes that result from it – like making land more resistant to erosion. “Farmers are already doing that with good management of grass waterways, looking at riparian zones and perhaps even being more resilient to flood situations, so if we do have these extreme events, they’re protecting the landscape as best they can,” Takle says.
Shifts is temperature and rainfall are affecting decisions such as when farmers plant their crops. Takle notes the effects of climate change can vary from region to region, and even from year to year. He says the Midwest is especially dependent on weather patterns in the Gulf of Mexico for rain.
“We see there’s likely going to be, in the longer term, some shift in those patterns and it’s not really clear exactly how that’s going to impact Iowa yet,” Takle says. “In some years we could experience some of the wetter periods, but also interspersed with dry periods as they’re having to the west.”
Today’s meeting includes U.S. Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack.