Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture
Climate change is causing significant changes in global temperatures and in the levels of precipitation across the world. The global temperatures are reported to have risen by two degrees on the Fahrenheit scale over the last century. The increase in temperatures results in changes in precipitation patterns across the world. Together the changes in temperatures and precipitation will implications on agriculture. This research essay presents some of the most critical ways in which climate change will impact agriculture and how nations and regions should respond to the impact. The bottom line is the need for adaptation of the crops, farm animals, and methods of agriculture.
Crop production will be impacted significantly by increases in temperatures and changes in the levels of precipitation. Every crop requires s specific range of soil and air temperatures for growth. Decrease or increase in temperatures from the limits for every crop affects the growth of the crops and also affects the production of seeds by the crops. As the temperatures change, many of the crops that are already being produced near the maximum temperatures that support their growth will be affected both in quality and quantity. Some of the crops that are affected most include corn, rice, and wheat which form bulk of the foods produced across the world. The production of these crops will reduce in the regions where they are currently produced. The regions that will be affected most by the reduction in quantity and quality of these crops are the poor countries that depend on agriculture for sustenance and which have food insecurities.
Temperature increases also affect crop production by raising the soil temperatures. Significant increases in soil temperatures result in destruction of the soil structure, kill the microorganisms that aid in soil aeration, and result in increased nitrogen leaching. Additionally, there can be significant losses in soil moisture meaning that the soil can no longer support vegetation and crops in general. In the end changes in temperature will not just impact the agricultural crops but also the vegetation cover and the ecosystem that the vegetation cover supports.
The other perspective of climate change is the change in precipitation. Change sin precipitation will significantly impact hydrological systems as well as the moisture content in the soil. The rains are expected to be heavy and shorter than the current state. The implications are hat crops with shorter maturities will be required. In regions that are traditionally cold the moisture content in the soil is expected to increase as soil temperatures rise and result in thawing of the ice. Such areas are likely to support new crops and new vegetation. The implications are that some of the cold regions that could not support certain crops in the past will now be able to support crops and the types of vegetation are also likely to change significantly over time. The greatest impact will however be on the regions that will experienced suppressed rainfall accompanied by heatwaves as these regions are likely to lose food production capacities earlier.
The third important perspective on the impact of climate change is the rise of new crop and animal diseases as well as new pests. The changes in temperatures will result in gradual but significant transfer of crop and animal diseases to new areas as pests, insects, and other animals migrate due to the rises in temperatures. The changes in insects, pests, and diseases will significantly disrupt crop and animal farming. There is a high probability that crop and animal product will be characterized by increased use of insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides as the transfer of diseases increases. These factors are a major cause of concern not only to the practice of agriculture but to the farmers as well as the consumers of the crops. The combination of these factors is likely to significantly disrupt food supply across the world. The most affected countries will be those that are already food insecure.
The last major perspective of the impact that climate change has on agriculture is the impact on animal farming and livestock production. Like crops, animals survive in specific limits of both temperature and levels of precipitation. Increases in temperatures are likely to cause significant losses of animals due to the increasing heat waves. Additionally, the sudden hailstorms that are as a result of climate change are causing deaths of animals in large numbers across the world. The implications are that at the onset there will be significant reductions in number of livestock from extreme weather conditions such as the heat waves and hailstorms.
Animal farming will not just be affected by such extreme weather patterns but also by long-term changes in the climate. Significant changes in precipitation and hydrological systems result in short supply of water. The water table also goes lower and it becomes difficult to get fresh water for the animals. These factors also cause the loss of vegetation cover. Animal farming is then affected by drought and famine conditions leading to significant losses of animals in the short-run and ultimately the farmers have to shift from animal farming to attempt other trades.
Overall climate change is likely to significantly impact both the quality and quantity of agricultural produces. The food insecure countries and economies that are currently dependent on agriculture will be greatly affected. Some localities may benefit from climate changes and this is specific to the temperate climatic regions where precipitation and temperatures may become more favorable for certain crops. However, the whole world will feel the impact of climate change on agriculture.
The changes in climate and subsequent impact on agriculture will significantly disrupt global food supply systems. This calls for action against climate change to avert a crisis. Countries should focus on reducing significantly the emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are the primary cause of global warming. On the other hand, there is the need for adaptation of the agricultural systems and methods agricultural production. There will be the need for production of crops that mature quickly and biotechnologists will need to devise mechanisms of dealing with the changing environment of pests, insects, and diseases. For animal farmers there may be the need to shift fully to other types of farming and in some places the crop farmers may need to reposition themselves to animal farming. In whole, the need for adaptation to crop production, animal production, and the methods agriculture is now more of a necessity than a choice. Failure to adapt will lead to the world losing its food production capacity quite significantly both in the short-term and in the medium-term.