Large-scale crop failures to increase under climate change, finds study

Washington, Oct 08 (ANI): A new study has shown that large-scale crop failures like the one that caused the recent Russian wheat crisis are likely to become more common under climate change due to an increased frequency of extreme weather events.

However, according to the research by the University of Leeds, the Met Office Hadley Centre and University of Exeter, improved farming and the development of new crops could mitigate the worst effects of these events on agriculture.

The unpredictability of the weather is one of the biggest challenges faced by farmers struggling to adapt to a changing climate. Some areas of the world are becoming hotter and drier, and more intense monsoon rains carry a risk of flooding and crop damage.

But the authors of the new study argue that adaptation to climate change be possible through a combination of new crops that are more tolerant to heat and water stress, and socio-economic measures such as greater investment.

Lead author Dr Andy Challinor, from the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment, said: "It is highly unlikely that we will find a single intervention that is a 'silver bullet' for protecting crops from failure. What we need is an approach that combines building up crop tolerance to heath and water stress with socio-economic interventions."

The team studied spring wheat crops in North East China. They used a climate model to make weather projections up to the year 2099 and then looked at the effect on crop yields. In parallel they looked at socioeconomic factors to determine how well farmers were able to adapt to drought.

While the study only looked at crops in China, the authors say this methodology can be applied to many of the other major crop-growing regions around the globe.

The study appears in Environmental Research Letters. (ANI)

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