A new climate assessment for Iowa and the rest of the Northern Plains predicts the region will see overall warmer temperatures and more “rain extremes” in the months and years ahead.
Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub, based in Ames, says ag producers will need to make more and more adjustments, starting with soil health.
“At worst, maintain. Don’t lose any more of your soil, but do things that help regenerate that soil with reducing tillage when you’re harvesting a crop,” Todey says. “Don’t remove some of that stover as much as possible to help renew the soil and help keep regenerating the soil.”
While concerns have been raised for years over nutrient application on fields and the subsequent run-off, Todey says fertilizer use will have to be even more carefully monitored.
“Being more judicious with our nutrient application so we don’t get any kind of water quality issues,” Todey says.
In some areas of the region, he says agricultural producers may have to consider changing the crops they plant to align better with the changing climate.
“Corn and soybeans are things that people know how to grow,” Todey says. “They’re insured. There’s a number of issues supporting that, but, especially when we have the pricing issues right now, are there other things you can grow, that you know how to grow, that are more able to be managed under the conditions we’re dealing with?”
The national climate assessment report endeavors to forecast approaching changes over the next 10-to-30 years.
Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton