Climate change

Climate change continues to pose challenges for Michigan farmers

EATON RAPIDS, Michigan — With weather more extreme than 10 or 20 years ago, climate change is creating challenges for Michigan farmers. We wanted to see how farmers are adapting and how they can even help slow down climate change.

“When we think of climate change, it is something that is caused, largely by humans, emitting greenhouse gases,” said Matthew Gammans, assistant professor of agricultural economics, of Food and Resources at Michigan State University. “It has a lot of effects on our climate and ultimately our weather systems and both, with higher temperatures and then extreme rainfall.”

Climate change doesn’t necessarily increase the overall amount of rain, but it does mean that more of that rain falls during intense one-day events, which can cause flooding and add an element of uncertainty. to farmers’ plans.

Whitney Belprez, farmer and co-owner of Farm of the two sparrows in Eaton Rapids, can feel the impact.

“We’ve been farming for 10 years, and I will say over time, I think the weather has become more unpredictable,” Belprez said. “So averages for precipitation, for temperature, ground heat in spring, frost dates… We either have more precipitation, or no rain, or we have a lot of heat when we normally wouldn’t. . When we see 80, 90 degrees in May, it’s very difficult for the growing season when we don’t get the rain we need in the spring to get growth going again for the whole season. This prepares us for a drought.

The unpredictable weather is a challenge for meteorologists too.

“The increase in certain types of extreme weather events caused by climate change, such as record rainfall, poses a challenge to meteorologists because it is difficult to predict an event that occurs only infrequently,” said the National Weather. Service to FOX 47 in a statement. “However, our weather models are initialized with current atmospheric and ocean conditions, so we base our weather forecasts on the current climate reality. This approach to weather forecasting takes climate change into account.

Bruno Basso, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Michigan State University, said farmers can reduce the impact of heavy rains by planting cover crops. and retaining the residues of previous crops. What many people don’t know is that they can also help fight climate change.

“The largest component of the contribution to climate change in agriculture comes from fertilizer use,” Basso said.

Basso and his team are working on maps that will show farmers how much fertilizer they really need to use. They also work to predict how much a farmer will be able to harvest.

“We’re getting closer and closer to being able to predict yields before the end of the season,” Basso said. “So farmers can make better decisions about how their fields will yield…We’re really trying to work with extension and agribusinesses to convert that complexity into very, very simple tools that farmers could use.”

Basso is optimistic that scientists and farmers working together can find ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We really have to accept the fact that climate change is a reality,” Basso said. “There will be places where there will be winners and losers. In general, I’m optimistic that the combination of more tool exposure and communication, even this type of conversation that we have… It’s very important for farmers to realize that science works very hard and works for them and for humanity in general. Science has no interest other than trying to help people make better decisions and be able to produce food for a growing population.

Basso said this year is expected to be a typical mix of uncertainties dominated by droughts and heavy rains and temperatures next week are expected to hit nearly 100 degrees.

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