Impact of climate change on agricultural activities across the globe
Agriculture and agri-business depend on climate. From planting, eating, from the largest farm to the smallest marke, and every stage in the production cycle, including choosing seeds to transporting livestock, depends on climate. There is an impact of climate change on all these agricultural activities. The longstanding patterns and expectations of agriculture and associated activities across the globe are no longer the same because of climate change and unpredictable seasonal weather.
Although modern technologies and techniques have made crop and livestock farms more productive, agricultural success is still highly dependent on weather. Agricultural practices require the right amount of rain and heat at the right time of year. Six main classes of agricultural climate adaptation identified by the food & agriculture organization of the UN given the impact of climate:
● Seasonal changes and sowing dates
● different varieties or species
● water supply and irrigation system
● inputs (fertilizer, tillage methods, grain drying, other field operations)
● new crop varieties
● fire risk management.
Water Supply and Seasonal Changes
Water supply and water management are vital for farming and agriculture. A shortage of water in case of fewer rains, drier summers or drought, and excessive water in case of heavy rains and floods have implications for agricultural activities. Besides the enhanced threat of flooding or drought, early or late rain can hinder critical phases of many crops like seeding, maturing and drying and make the land too wet to support farm machinery.
Advantages and Disadvantages
A few aspects of climate change that have led to better productivity and increased crop yield are a gradual increase in atmospheric CO2, longer frost-free seasons and an increase in growing degree days. However, at the same time, enhancement in climate variability and frequency of extreme events has restricted the potential yield of crops and badly affected the agriculture industry. Even a single extreme event like an extended drought, heat, later frost and excess rainfall during the harvest period can eradicate any benefit.
While rising CO2 levels due to climate change stimulate plant growth simultaneously, they also decrease the nutritional value of most food crops, which is a potential threat to human health. Raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels lessen the concentrations of protein and essential minerals in most plant species like rice, soybeans, and wheat.
Moreover, under warmer temperatures, increased CO2 levels, and wetter climates, many fungi, pests, and weeds thrive. With a change in climate distribution, a range of pests and weeds are likely to be raised, which causes new problems for farmers that were unexposed to these species previously, besides threatening human health due to enhanced use of pesticides.
We must consider the effects of climate change with factors that have affected agriculture production, including changes in farming practice and technology. The agricultural sector has turned towards technical innovations and inventive ways to mitigate climate change, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Strategies in this regard range widely, including different crop cultivation, rotation strategies, improving fertilizers and their application approaches, transitioning to lower carbon fuel resources, using conservation tillage, using gas capture systems for livestock and manure besides improving soil carbon sequestration.
A key to minimizing yield losses because of climate change now and in the future is crop level adaptation which may entail changing sowing time, crop cultivators, irrigation practices and cultivation techniques. Strategies suggested to help maintain production because of several risks to crop production from extreme weather events and climate change includes restoring farm type, crop and cultivating scale diversity in food systems. However, for developing countries, adaptation options like improvements to irrigation, change in crop management or ranching practices are limited compared to developed countries and industrialized nations.
Agriculture and climate change are strongly associated because it is evident that the fast pace of climate change has and will have a far-reaching impact on agroecosystems and their productivity. Farming practices like rotating crops to match water availability, adjusting sowing dates to rainfall patterns and temperature, and using crop varieties better suited to new conditions may offset potential yield losses. But to combat the impact of climate change and ensure food security for human beings and other living things, there is a dire need for the world to come together to thwart climate change challenges.