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Development of agricultural weather policy as it relates to climate issues Ray Motha USDA.

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Presentation on theme: "Development of agricultural weather policy as it relates to climate issues Ray Motha USDA."— Presentation transcript:


2 Development of agricultural weather policy as it relates to climate issues Ray Motha USDA

3 Introduction --Key Points-- Sustainable agriculture Agricultural weather & climate extremes Agroclimatic system Risk management Agricultural weather policy

4 Background - Agriculture The decline of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean region, Pre-Columbian southwest U.S. and Central America is believed to have been strongly influenced by natural resource degradation from non- sustainable farming and forestry practices. Water is the principal resource that has helped agriculture and society to prosper, but it has been a major limiting factor when mismanaged. In drought years, limited water supplies depletes both surface and groundwater, with major consequences.

5 Background - Agriculture Food production risen dramatically since 1940s due to new technologies, mechanization, pesticides and fertilizers, seed hybrids, farm management and government policies. While these changes have had many positive effects and reduced many risks in farming, there have also been significant costs that, if left unchecked, would cause great harm to the natural resources and environmental health. What are the vulnerable issues?

6 Background – Agriculture Water Resources Soil moisture reserves are an essential but limiting resource. Water quality involves such issues as salinization and contamination of surface and ground waters by pesticides and nitrates. Changing patterns of agriculture affect water resources through the destruction of riparian habitats within watersheds. The conversion of natural land to agricultural land reduces fish and wildlife through erosion and sedimentation, the effects of pesticides, removal of riparian plants and the diversion of water.

7 Background – Agriculture Air and Land Resources Many agricultural activities affect air quality. Smoke from agricultural burning; dust from tillage; pesticide drift from spraying; and nitrous oxide emissions from the use of nitrogen fertilizer all contribute to air quality. Soil erosion continues to be a serious threat to the agricultural systems ability to produce adequate food.

8 Background – Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture A growing movement has emerged during the past 25 years to address these issues, and to offer innovative and economically viable opportunities. Concept of Sustainable Agriculture

9 Sustainable Agriculture Goals: environmental health; economic profitability; and socio-economic equity. Principle: meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance. Land and natural resource base needs to be maintained or enhanced for the long term. A systems perspective is essential to understanding sustainability – from the individual farm to the local ecosystem and to communities affected by the farm.

10 Sustainable Agriculture An emphasis on a systems approach allows more thorough interconnections between farming and other aspects of our natural environment. The transition to sustainable agriculture is a process, usually a series of small, realistic steps for farmers. However, it is important to note that reaching the goal of sustainable agriculture is the responsibility of all participants in the system.

11 Sustainable Agriculture – Farming Strategies Drought: water conservation measures; drought-tolerant crop species; improved crop management practices. Water quality: conversion of farmland to drought- tolerant forages or removal from production; restoration of wildlife habitat or use of agroforestry to minimize impacts of salinity. Air Quality: incorporate crop residue into soil; reduce tillage; plant wind breaks, crop covers and strips of native grasses to reduce dust. Soil: reduce or eliminate tillage; manage irrigation to reduce runoff; and, keep soil covered with plants

12 Sustainable Agriculture- Plant Protection Strategies Selection of species and varieties well suited to site and condition of farm, including pest-resistant crops, topography, and climate. Diversified farming spreads economic risks and is less susceptible to instability in agro-ecosystem. Healthy soil is a key component of sustainability; and, proper soil, water and nutrient management can help prevent some pest problems brought on by crop stress. Sustainable farmers rely on natural, renewable and on- farm inputs to develop efficient systems that do not need high levels of input.

13 Sustainable Agriculture- Animal Production Practices Farm capabilities and constraints, including feed and forage sources, landscape, climate and management must be factored into livestock operations. Long-term carry capacity, stocking rate, and proper grazing management are essential for both economic and environmental impacts. Animal health, waste management, and surface and ground water pollutants are growing issues of concern.

14 Sustainable Agriculture- Summary By helping farmers to adopt practices that reduce chemical use and conserve scarce resources, sustainable agriculture research and education can play a key role in building public support for agricultural land preservation. Educating land use planners and decision-makers about sustainable agriculture is an important priority to promote environmentally safe farming practices, and to protect prime farmland and wildlife preserves from over-development.

15 Agricultural Weather While focusing on sustainable agriculture, farmers have to cope with variable weather throughout the growing season, extreme events during the season, and changing climate patterns. Agriculture has learned to adapt to climate variability and climate change, but past changes have been relatively transitional.

16 Climate Issues Agriculture has developed over time in a given region based on normal or average climate conditions. The frequency of occurrence of extreme climate conditions dictates the response of agriculture to climate variability/change.

17 Extreme Events Examples hurricane flood tornado drought heat wave/cold wave winter storm (ice storm) new max and/or min (temperature, precipitation )

18 Extreme Events How can extreme events change with climate change? Shift in the mean of a distribution, e.g. global warming of 0.6 o C over the past century Variance of the distribution – e.g. decrease in diurnal temperature variance, increase in precipitation variance over Sahel More or less skewed distribution – e.g. decrease in weak storms, increase in stronger storms Increase in tropical events – e.g. Hurricane or Tropical Cyclone

19 Extreme Events Simple extremes higher maximum summer temperatures more hot summer days increase in heat index lower minimum winter temperatures (more frost days) more heavy 1-day precipitation events (increased intensity of precipitation events) more heavy multi-day events (increased intensity of precipitation events)

20 Extreme Events Complex event-driven climate extremes more heat waves More cold waves more drought more wet spells (floods) more tropical storms more intense mid-latitude storms more intense ENSO events more common ENSO conditions

21 Greenhouse Gas Concentrations (GHG) The concentrations of CO 2, CO 4, N 2 O and CFCs have been steadily increasing since the industrial revolution. Human activities are responsible for these increases, which, in turn, impact global temperatures, precipitation patterns and climatic variability. Climate change will alter agro-ecosystem. Agriculture can reduce the net GHG emissions that cause climate change by: storing carbon in the soils and plants; reducing emissions from livestock operations; and, more efficient use of fertilizers.

22 GHG- Carbon Sequestration Management practices: Conservation tillage/no-till for row crops; reduce summer fallow for wheat; increase winter cover crops; improver water& nutrient use; rotational grazing/improved grazing crops; conversion of marginal croplands to grassland, forests, or wetlands. In addition to storing carbon in plant materials and in soil, greater benefits to these management practices include: improved soil fertility & productivity; reduced soil erosion; improved water quality; and improved wildlife habitat.

23 Agroclimatic System Objective Incorporates the physical properties of the atmosphere- land surface (vegetation) and hydrology interactions into the planning and management of agricultural (food and fiber) products. The objective of a such a system is to achieve a sustainable, optimized production level through the use of weather and climate information, while maintaining the environmental integrity and minimizing the degradation of the soil, nutrient and water resource base. Technology (fertilizers, new seed varieties, farming practices) is to be used to boost production as long as it is not detrimental to the resource base in the long term.

24 Agroclimatic System Requirements A climatic observation systemstate of weather A biological and geophysical monitoring systemstate of land surface, soil, and vegetation An assessment system for land- and water-use strategies A data processing and information dissemination system to guide both operational and planning decisions A research component to establish or improve relations of weather and climate to soil and hydrology for various crop varieties.

25 Agroclimatic System Communication of Information Information for farmers/local decision makers: Advisories on planting/harvesting dates etc. Disease reports, spraying advisories Irrigation scheduling Media reporting (telephone, newspaper, radio, TV, mail, Internet) of forecasts and advisories

26 Agroclimatic System Communication of Information Information for government/agro-business: Land use planning, agricultural management strategies Water resource management Depletion/erosion of soil resources, economic evaluation of impact on yield

27 A Call To Action Recognition of the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to focus on climate change/variability, involving the combined efforts of federal, university and research institutions. Recognition of the urgent need for proactive planning activities rather than reactive response measures.

28 Agroclimatic Risk Management Plan Vulnerability Analyses Impact Assessments Mitigation Planning Adaptation Strategies

29 1. Adaptation measures are assessed in a developmental context. 2. Adaptation to short-term climate variability and extreme events are explicitly included as a step toward reducing vulnerability to longer-term climate change 3. Adaptation occurs at all levels, ranging from local to national and international levels. 4. Equal importance is placed on both the adaptation strategy and the process needed for its implementation.

30 Integrated Climate Risk Management Preparedness to improve the effectiveness of response and recovery, such as establishing early-warning systems. Mitigation measures to prevent or reduce the impact of a catastrophic event prior to its occurrence. Adaptation strategies to prepare for and minimize the potential impacts of climate variability and climate change.

31 Agricultural Weather and Climate Policy Develop an agricultural weather and climate policy with preparedness as its foundation ( concept similar to U.S. National Drought Policy ). Outline a course of action that includes a preparedness initiative to help reduce the economic hardships caused by extreme climate events.

32 Agricultural Weather and Climate Policy Recommending a paradigm shift in policy from Response to Readiness. Goal: Reduce the impacts of climate variability and change on the agricultural sector. Objective: Preparedness must become the cornerstone of an agricultural weather and climate policy.

33 Agricultural Weather and Climate Policy Preparedness is the key to a proactive policy.

34 Agricultural Weather and Climate Policy GOAL 1: Incorporate planning, implementation of plans and proactive mitigation measures, risk management, resource stewardship, environmental considerations, and public education as the key elements of an effective agricultural weather and climate policy.

35 Agricultural Weather and Climate Policy GOAL 2: Improve collaboration among scientists and managers to enhance the effectiveness of observation networks, monitoring, prediction, information delivery, and applied research, and, to foster public understanding of and preparedness for climate variability and change.

36 Agricultural Weather and Climate Policy Implementation Process: - Sustainable agriculture objectives; - Vulnerability assessments; - Potential climate variability/change analyses; - Agroclimatic system requirements; - Adaptation strategies.

37 Summary Developing an agricultural weather and climate policy that addresses climate issues for policy makers and scientists would aid risk management, conservation of natural resources, and mitigation of climate variability/change. A win-win scenario!


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