Crop Biotech Update

Study Reveals Farming Becoming Riskier Under Climate Change

March 29, 2017

Scientists working to study the impacts of climate change on agriculture based their predictions on rainfall, drought intensity, and weather volatility. However, a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign puts predictions based on field working days.

In a previous study, the group developed models that reliably translated past climate data into field working days for Illinois. Those models are coupled with climate change scenarios to forecast field working days into the future in the new study. The group ran the models for nine crop districts in Illinois for two time periods, mid-century (2046 to 2065) and late-century (2080 to 2099), using three climate scenarios ranging from mild to extreme.

For Illinois, the corn planting window will be split in two to avoid wet conditions in April and May. Each planting window carries increased risk, as the early planting window could be thwarted by frost or heavy precipitation, and the late window cut short by intense late-summer drought.

"Drought periods will intensify in mid- to late-summer under all the climate scenarios. If farmers decide to plant later to avoid the wet period in April and May, they're going to run into drought that will hit yield during the anthesis-silking interval, leading to a lot of kernel abortion. That second planting window is probably pretty risky," said University of Illinois and USDA Agricultural Research Service ecologist Adam Davis.

For more details about this study, read the article in the ACES College News.