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Agriculture This Week: Considering what climate change will mean

The impact on farming could be massive
Seeding stock shot
What crops Prairie farmers grow may be influenced by climate change. (File Photo)

YORKTON - When you start to talk about climate change you know it’s a conversation which will have at least some rolling their eyes in full out denial that it exists – or of it does exist it is simply a natural occurrence of nature.

When I pause to think about the future for humankind, I truly hope the climate change deniers are proven correct.

But, what if they are simply in denial, and the current evidence which suggests change is happening, and having a generally negative impact, is indicative of dramatic changes ahead?

If those changes happen can we adapt as a species?

It is a question which is particularly troubling for farmers.

The operation of growing food, from the diesel fuel being burned by tractors, to the use of nitrogen fertilizer to grow bigger crops, to cattle producing manure, can all impact the environment, and be part of what is contributing to climate change.

But, the production of food is about as important an enterprise as there is.

We might well survive without fuel consuming airplanes, or driving gasoline powered cars, but we don’t last long without food.

So farming has to continue. It is quite reasonably the last enterprise you would stop in any future attempt to curb climate change, if it came to that.

But, the farm sector is also one which will be directly impacted if climate change continues.

Shifting weather patterns change what producers in a given area may be able to grow in the years ahead.

And, if severe weather is a more common occurrence moving forward because of climate change, it is also farmers who are going to be impacted rather directly.

Droughts, wetter than usual springs, late spring, or early fall frosts, are all weather happenings which are bad news for crops.

Overall, the farmer of the not too distant future is likely to be growing crops that are not the ones they grow today, and they will be growing those crops under different circumstances in terms of what Mother Nature is doing.

The question though, which is perhaps most pertinent, yet without a clear answer, is how quickly the changes may happen?

If change comes quickly, and there are those fearing we will reach a point of no return sooner than we realize, can the agriculture sector adapt as quickly?

If the farm sector can’t keep pace with the changes climate change might bring, the security of our food system will be in dire circumstances, and that is indeed a troubling thought about our future.


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