When you think of global warming, you might envision dramatic scenes like melting glaciers and flooded coastlines. Agriculture is yet another area that will be seriously affected by climatic changes. Farming challenges may become even more intense. Today it is even more likely that a farmer will face droughts, floods, heat waves, and hurricanes. These types of weather events that are so traumatic for farming will certainly be less rare.
In regions that are already warm, global warming will cause the plants to languish in the heat. Soil evaporation rates will be very high, leaving parched earth and burned plants. Often rain will come down hard when it does come, leading to greater than usual soil erosion.
Some studies show that the news of global warming is not all bad for farming, at least not in the short run.
An increase in temperature has some temporary benefits. For a while, it will simply mean more time for crops to mature because of a longer growing season. This is especially true of regions where the spring and fall were once quite cool.
Strangely enough, all the extra carbon dioxide in the air also has a fertilizing affect on crops. This type of fertilization is most helpful for crops such as wheat, soybeans, and rice. Carbon dioxide fertilization is a beneficial by-product of global warming. However, this benefit may all be in vain. When global warming pushes ground level ozone to higher stages, the carbon dioxide fertilization is voided out by tropospheric ozone. These ozone levels are influenced by both emissions and temperature. When the temperature rises, the ground ozone levels will rise as well.
The overall predictions for farming in North America are neither all bad nor all good. Crops are expected to benefit from the effects of global warming in many regions for a short period of time. Crops will suffer in some places due to regional variations. The Great Plains are now more susceptible to drought. However, Canada will probably benefit from the added heat, causing farming of some crops to shift north.
Right now, and in the near future, global warming does not seem to pose a serious risk for North American farmers in general. There may even be some positive outcomes. However, in the long run, nothing will be able to mitigate the damage to agriculture that will occur if global warming is not slowed or stopped.