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Studies show how climate change is affecting crop production globally

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 47) – It has already been projected that climate change will have an effect on crops in the long run, but is it effecting farmers today?

A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota looking into this says climate change is in fact already affecting crop yields around the globe.

Researcher Deepak Ray and his team have been working on this project since 2015, and have gone as far as identifying the increases and decreases in every county in the world and how it effects consumable food calories.

Not only does climate change play a huge factor in weather patterns and the environment, but also food production.

“We don’t want to talk about 2050, what’s going to happen in 2050 because farmers are not planning for that right now,” said Ray. “We need to plan for tomorrow or five years down the lane.”

New research from the University of Minnesota suggests that the effects of climate change are already being felt around the world in terms of average annual crop production, but it’s not equal.

“The power in our study is that we can actually drill down to a higher resolution and figure out what is happening as of now,” said Ray.

The goal is that this new data will help farmers make better decisions about choosing what seeds they plant, such as whether they need something that is more heat, water, or drought tolerant.

“Is there a variety which we can now start to grow which is more heat tolerant,” said Ray. “These decisions can be done now.”

This research looks at average annual crop yields like corn, soybean, rice, sugarcane, and wheat and five other main crops.

Researchers are seeing a decrease in annual crop yields in Europe, Southern Africa, and Australia. In Latin America, crop yields have seen an increase and results are mixed across Asia, North and Central America.

“In countries like Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, which are food insecure, and if they have a loss in consumable food calories that makes a [big] of difference,” said Ray.

When specifically looking at average annual corn yields in Minnesota, there has actually been an increase of about two to three percent. The only Minnesota county not seeing a bump in corn yields is Freeborn.

“And in Freeborn, the loss each year is around 0.03 tons per hectare which translates to around one bushel per hectare,” said Ray.

Ray says there is still plenty more research to do but the end goal is to help farmers around the world be more prosperous and even ultimately end world hunger.

If you’re interested in reading the full research article, click here.

Sarah Gannon

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