A recent study of perceptions of climate change (published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society) shows that there are significant differences between attitudes of scientists and agricultural producers on the causes of climate change. Over 90 percent of scientists are sure that climate change is occurring and more than 50 percent attribute it mainly to human activities, although they recognize that climate also changes due to natural factors like volcanic activity. In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers in the study believe that climate change is occurring but only 8 percent attribute it to human activities. This makes communication between scientists and farmers more difficult, because they are not working from a common understanding of climate science.
Here is an excerpt from a story on the survey in Growing Georgia, which has links to the original study near the bottom of the page:
“Climate change presents both potential gains and threats to U.S. agriculture. Warmer temperatures could extend the growing season in northern latitudes, and an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide could improve the water use efficiency of some crops. But increases in weather variability and extreme weather events could lower crop yields.
Growers can manage the potential risks linked to extreme rain events and soil degradation by using adaptive strategies such as planting cover crops, using no-till techniques, increasing the biodiversity of grasses and forage and extending crop rotations, Prokopy said. These strategies contribute to soil health and water quality and also help capture carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by agricultural systems.”
Because of the disconnect between scientists and farmers, a number of agricultural groups are working with scientists to find appropriate and economically viable ways farmers can manage their farms to reduce climate risk and to become more resilient and preserve or increase farm profitability. Farm Futures provided a look at some strategies that farmers can use to adapt to both short and long-term variations in climate by increasing soil health and resiliency of farm practices.