The debate over climate change—and its causes—is never-ending. But Iowa State University climatologist Gene Takle is a firm believer in climate change and he says it is having an impact on agriculture—both good and bad.
On the positive side, Takle says, are warmer springs, more humid summers and longer growing seasons.
“Plant breeders have attributed at least one bushel per acre per year yield increases to a better, more favorable climate. Our growing season is longer, we have more soil moisture so we can plant higher densities,” Takle says.
But Takle says climate change has also produced more extreme and unpredictable weather—such as intense thunderstorms, especially in the spring. It has also created additional challenges for fighting pests and disease.
“Nights are more humid. It means that we have dew on crops longer-it comes earlier in the evening and lastslonger in the morning so that’s more favorable conditions for pests and pathogens, molds, fungus, toxins and so on,” he says.
Takle notes, over the last 30 years, moisture in the air in Iowa and across the region has increased 13 percent.
Takle says farmers are already adapting to climate change. The question, he says, is whether they’ll be able to continue to adapt as more changes occur.
Radio Iowa contributed to this report.