>I just tagged a site in del.icio.us with “climate change” for the first time. Can’t figure out why I haven’t been researching the topic until now. For some reason, I seem to have assumed that I already knew “enough” about the topic. Didn’t realize how foolish I was being until I started to mention in an email to my uncle that there is a lot of buzz in Minnesota about climate change and its impact on farmers. I thought to point him to some reading material and realized that I didn’t know of a single primary source on the topic. I’ve just been swallowing whatever Al Gore, Wired Magazine, or NPR chose to spoon feed me. I’ve got some reading to do…
In Minnesota, agriculture is about a $7 billion annual industry, 50% of which comes from crops. The principal crops are corn, soybeans, and wheat.
If climate warms, corn yields could remain unchanged or could decrease by up to 34%. Wheat yields could increase by 6-10%, and projected soybean yields are mixed: they could increase by up to 28% or decrease by 12%.
While crop yields could increase, the number of acres farmed could fall by 12-18%, and farm income could decrease by 10-25%.
About 2% of the state’s farm acres are currently irrigated. Irrigated acreage could increase. This could further stress water supplies, which could be lower in the summer, and water quality could be degraded further.