Farmers to face warmer temperatures in future

Purdue researchers say Hoosier farmers will have to adapt management practices and the types of crops they plant over the next several decades.

Posted: Jul 31, 2018 6:29 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- Purdue researchers say Hoosier farmers will have to adapt management practices and the types of crops they plant over the next several decades. It's a result of climate change.

Members of the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment held a briefing this morning to discuss Indiana's changing climate. Based out of Purdue University, the team aims to show how climate will affect state and local interests.

Today's new report showed that farmers may have to rethink their strategy for the future.

Research shows average global temperatures rising over several decades. The report says Indiana's growing season temperature will be upwards of seven-point-two degrees warmer by mid-century.

Jeff Dukes, Director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center believes Hoosier farmers are having to constantly adjust to the climate. "We're farming for the climate of today, and tomorrow we're not going to have this climate anymore," said Dukes.

Dukes thinks the continuous change in climate will worsen conditions for farmers. "A lot of the issues they may be dealing with now are just going to be amplified going forward, so they should think about what is it really worth dealing with now," he added.

Purdue Professor of Hydrology Laura Bowling believes the observed increase in global temperatures will create a longer growing season. "Whether we're talking about the onset of the growing season being when soil temperatures are warm enough or the date of the last spring frost going up to the date of the first killing frost in the fall, I think it's pretty clear that that total time is lengthening," said Bowling.

While the prolonged growing season seems enticing, it brings risks. "We expect to have less water available late in the growing season because the hotter plants are going to need more, and so they are going to remove more water from the soil faster," said Bowling.

The decrease in an ample water supply would put farmers' crops directly at risk. No water would yield no crops. With temperatures expected to continue their climb, thinking ahead will be the key for Hoosier farmers. "If we prepare for it, if we make changes accordingly, then I think we can maintain productivity and maintain economic competitiveness," said Dukes.

Researchers say these changes could reduce corn yields by up to 20-percent by the year 2050.
Also by that year the frost-free season is expected to be a full month earlier.

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