36871 - Global Warming and Agriculture in Oregon and the...

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Unformatted text preview: Global Warming and Agriculture in Oregon and the West Brent Searle OR Department of Agriculture September 2006 Some of Agriculture is Dubious of Global Warming Published in a recent Oregon ag newsletter: From Dr. Bob Carter, James Cook University: "The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90%of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming." If it is a Long-term Trend, is it good or is it bad? Mild warming and increased CO2 could stimulate more plant production and increase agriculture output, even in cooler climates that cannot now grow fruits and vegetables... OR It may cause prolonged drought, decrease of food output, and lead to significant price increases for food. Crop Response to CO2 The C3 plants (small grains, legumes, cool-season grasses, and most trees) usually respond more positively than the C4 plants (warm-season grasses, corn, sorghum, millet, and sugarcane). Responses also depend in part on environment (e.g., water and nutrient availability) and in part availability on genetics. Oregon The good news: Probably in a good position with respect to crops grown here for modest rise in temperature and CO2 levels because the plant species here are largely C3. Oregon The bad news: Increasing competition for water! Water Makes the Difference in Agricultural Production Food and other agricultural crops are grown in many parts of U.S. only because irrigation water is available. Climate change may lead to less winter snow pack and snow that melts earlier, causing a shortage of already-expensive irrigation water in prime agricultural areas that supply the national and international markets. Irrigation The agricultural bounty of U.S. production of fruits and vegetables simply wouldn't be possible if the farmers tried to rely on natural rainfall. It only rains 810 inches a year in most of the arid parts of the U.S. where these crops are grown, and almost all of that in the wintertime (snow pack). Rain that does come in these areas (Willamette Valley) comes in the winter as well, not when crops need it. Irrigation What makes much of our food and agricultural supply possible is irrigation a large part of it from snow pack in the mountains, and distributed throughout by a vast system of irrigation canals and pipes. Snow pack provides about 75% of the West's water snow pack is the primary reservoir in the West. Options: Fight or Innovate? If we are to accept projections about global warming, we need to prepare for a water shortage... We can fight over an increasingly smaller pie of water when it is needed the most... Or, we can be innovative and begin now to study, design, and implement capture and delivery systems that adapt to changing climatic conditions. Adding to the Water Pie 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Water sequestration -- pumping it in the ground during runoff/winter for storage, and pump it out during dry demand periods. (While generating energy?) Create more off-stream storage systems. Create more on-farm ponds/storage. Desalinization of seawater. Don't rule out in-stream storage systems. Collaboration vs Confrontation Building a larger pie builds opportunities for collaboration and benefits to many parties. Attempting to divide up a shrinking pie only creates more confrontation and battles. CO2 Sequestration ODA and OSU beginning work on literature review and identifying research/data gaps in understanding carbon sequestration in perennial ryegrass production... Discussions with the Chicago Climate Exchange. $/ton needs to increase to attract acres into changed management practices such as no-till production due to lower yields. These efforts require more research $$. Other Opportunities for Agriculture 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Taking CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering it in biomass and soils with appropriate carbon offset payments; Changing agricultural practices on productive, established agricultural lands (low-till/no-till); Increasing efficiency of farm inputs such as fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides (GIS/GPS precision application; laser and photo infrared plant ID, plant breeding and biotechnology; Increasing production of agricultural biofuels (renewable biological-based energy fuels) to replace fossil energy emissions; Improving Nitrogen use efficiency as the primary means of decreasing N2O emissions; and Decreasing CH4 (methane) emissions by capturing or preventing emissions from animal manure storage and by increasing livestock production efficiency. Bypass the Politics Identifying win-win approaches, such as carbon sequestration payments and water storage projects can leap-frog the debate and politics of global warming and provide incentives to bring about management practices that accomplish goals that benefit everyone. ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/23/2012 for the course AGRICULTUR 200 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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