Climate change will make US Corn Belt unsuitable for growing corn by 2100

(ORDO NEWS) — Climate change is predicted to transform agricultural systems around the world. While climate greatly influences where and how farmers cultivate land, millennia of agricultural innovation has expanded the geography of cultivation far beyond what only the sun, soil and water can provide.

Assessing how climate interacts with human activities, determining farming opportunities for farmers, is vital to understanding the impact of climate change on agriculture.

I assess how climate interacts with agricultural activity to shape the geography of six major crops: corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, hay and alfalfa.

For each crop, I model biophysical suitability, or the likelihood of a crop occurring given only biophysical conditions, and agricultural suitability, or the likelihood of a crop occurring given biophysical conditions, as well as agricultural inputs, farm inputs, and farm characteristics.

Although biophysical conditions strongly determine the geography of cultivation, agricultural activities – in particular the use of crop insurance and agricultural inputs – enhance and expand the geography of cultivation of these staple crops, often in regions that are not biophysically suitable for growing them.

I predict biophysically driven shifts in cropping geography until 2100 under low, moderate, and high emission scenarios and find that these geography will shift strongly northward and the Corn Belt will become unsuitable for growing corn by 2100.

These results indicate that significant agricultural adaptation will be necessary and inevitable in the Central and Eastern United States.

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