by Ali Siddiqui
Climate-smart agricultural techniques are agronomical practices that help alleviate the consequences that climate change has on agriculture. Agronomical practices are related to soil management and production of field crops. Currently, in the Midwestern US different climate-smart techniques have been advocated in order to increase crop production. These include utilizing different crop cultivars in order to reap the benefits of earlier planting dates and a longer growing season and no-till agriculture in order to reduce soil emissions and maintain soil moisture. Bagley, Miller, and Bernacchi (2015) using observational data and an agroecosystem model that uses future temperature and CO2 concentrations determine the effectiveness of climate-smart techniques and their biophysical impacts.
The first scenario of interest uses predicted future temperatures and CO2 emissions from their model and results in spring snowfall lessening and a warmer autumn, which led to crops such as maize emerging 6−11 days and finishing maturation 15−30 days earlier than the current season. The potential biophysical impact of this result was a decrease in water availability as crops mature due to the increased time that the crops are actively transpiring. The cultivars−plants produced by selective breeding−used in order to take advantage of this extended growing season had short growing seasons and were compared to cultivars with long growing seasons. The two maize cultivars had almost identical simulations until the cultivar with the shorter growing season reached day 200 after planting and was ready to be harvested, unlike the longer growing season maize cultivar.
The second climate-smart agricultural technique was the use of no-till agriculture. No-till agriculture has been advocated as a climate-smart agricultural technique because it reduces soil temperatures and retains soil moisture, as well as because the debris left over is beneficial to the soil. The biophysical impacts of this technique were that in the spring and autumn months soil moisture was at its highest saturation leading to overall better production in yield. Overall, the conclusions drawn by the results of both scenarios were that the no-till agriculture led to better overall biophysical impacts than using cultivars to take advantage of the extended growing season.
Bagley, J. E., Miller, J., Bernacchi, C. J. 2015. Biophysical impacts of climate-smart agriculture in the Midwest United States. Plant, Cell and Environment, 1-18. DOI: 10.1111/pce.12485. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pce.12485/citedby
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