Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Iowa scientists: warming earth to cause more extreme weather; state has new nutrient-runoff plan

A group of Iowa scientists is warning that extreme weather events, like this summer's oppressive drought, will become more frequent as global temperatures continue to rise, Ken Anderson of Brownfield Ag News reports. The group released an updated "Iowa Climate Statement," in which lead author David Courard-Hauri of Drake University wrote there will be an increase of "extreme wet and dry events" in Iowa as pollution continues to rise, which will directly impact crops.

"Weather varies too much and has too many drivers to attribute any particular event to a single cause like climate change," Courad-Hauri wrote. "But there is a clear pattern of crop loss and property damage from increasingly frequent events like flooding, drought and dangerous storms." Iowa State University climate scientist Christopher Anderson says higher frequency of wet springs in the state is another indicator of extreme weather caused by climate change.

The University of Iowa's Jerald Schnoor said agriculture has a role to play in addressing climate change, Anderson reports. "We need to recover energy from anaerobic digestion on farms and landfills, and use the methane from those processes to create—through micro-turbines—electricity," Schnoor told Anderson. "We need to become leaders in biomass, biorefineries and cellulosic biofuels from non-food crops." (Read more)

Iowa farms are already in the hot seat for high amounts of nutrient runoff into streans. State Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey revealed a new nutrient-reduction strategy this week that he said will produce better results than previous efforts, Anderson reports. Northey said he will increase efforts to persuade farmers to adopt different fertilizer application rates, timing and methods; and edge-of-field practices. The plan has support from the Iowa Soybean Association.

No comments: