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Agriculture’s role in building resilience to a changing climate

Midwestern farmers are seeing the impact of a changing climate firsthand on their farms.

Aaron Wilson, a research scientist at Ohio State University with the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and OSU extension, says long-term trends suggest farmers can expect warmer conditions, including warmer overnight temperatures and warmer winters, and more extreme conditions.   

“We’re seeing longer growing seasons, we’re seeing more rainfall on average, we’re seeing more rainfall in the fall, and we’re seeing more intense rainfall events where we see 2-4 inches of rain in one or two hours,” he says.

Wilson says there are strategies to build resilience against these weather extremes.

“Erosion control, soil control, cover crops and less tillage are possibilities,” he says. “Crop selection and into the future we’re thinking about different hybrids that might be able to withstand these rapid shifts from really wet conditions to short intense dry periods. All of that has to be on the table and I think it has to be a multifaceted approach.”

He says farmers can be part of the solution to climate change.

“We can really lead the world if we’re talking about climate change and I think agriculture plays a huge part of our future and the outcomes we’ll ultimately see,” he says.

Brownfield interviewed Wilson during the recent Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Conference.

Audio: Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University

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