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Crop pests including weeds, insects, molds, etc. are highly influenced by the precipitation and temperature conditions of the growing season. A plant that is stressed is more vulnerable to other biotic (living) orabiotic (non-living) stresses. For example, if humidity levels increase,as has occurred and is expected to continue in the Midwest, corn encountering drought during the grain-filling phase may be more vulnerable to mycotoxin or aflatoxin growth. Climate prediction information can help farmers prepare for these pest problems in advance in order to mitigate their negative impact on crop yields.
Climate predictions of precipitation and temperature during various stages of the growing season can be especially helpful to farmers producing crops under irrigation. These predictions allow farmers to more efficiently plan the timing of water application and apply the amount of water needed to optimize crop yields.
Improved crop field operations planning -- Crop yields are sensitive to the timing of field operations. Climate predictions will provide lead time to help farmers mitigate the effects of adverse weather during the planting season. Delayed planting can significantly reduce yields and make crops vulnerable to early frost in the fall. Climate prediction information on expected “suitable planting field days” based on highly specific timing, amount, duration and special distribution of precipitation and evaporation during the planting season will help farmers prepare for periods of excessive rainfall. Information on expected soil temperatures and the timing of the last killing frosts can help farmers identify the optimum time for planting.
Delayed harvest can significantly impact both the yield and quality of crops. Climate prediction information can help farmers decide whether to harvest crops early or wait for further dry-down to minimize crop drying expenses. Information on expected“suitable harvest field days” can help farmers make plans to minimize the amount of quality damage due to excessive harvest rainfall.
Improper tillage can influence crop stands. Delayed pesticide application can negatively impact crop yields. Climate prediction scan provide lead time to help farmers mitigate the effects of adverse weather during the planting season (e.g., delay planting due to cold soil).
Improve crop field-level investment decisions --In addition to the growing season decisions outlined above, farmers have a variety of longer-term decisions that require multi-year and/or decadal climate predictions. Future precipitation levels and the variability and intensity of precipitation events can significantly impact crop yields. Both too little soil moisture and too much soil moisture will reduce crop yields. Climate predictions can provide essential information for decision makers of whether to install irrigation systems or drainage systems to optimize crop yields.
Climate predictions of the number of suitable field days for planting,harvesting and other field operations will impact the type and size of crop machinery a farmer should purchase. Predictions of narrow time windows indicate that farmers should considered oversized machinery to minimize the possibility of missing these time windows. In addition,predictions of narrow time windows for planting increase the need for applying inputs and other field operations. Also, narrow harvest windows increase the need for moving grain quickly from field to storage. In addition to combine size, this includes ample grain movement capability from the field to storage and ample grain drying capacity for a wet and/or short harvest window.
Most crops grown in the U.S. are annual crops. This means they are planted every year. However, a significant amount of agriculture production comes from perennial plants that, when planted, will produce over a period of years. This includes forage crop such as alfalfa which may yield output over four or five years and tree crops such as citrus and nuts that may produce output over a decade or more. These planting decisions are along-term investment that often involves substantial upfront investment and may include a period of no returns for several years. Multi-year and decadal climate predictions can be an important resource for this decision.
Mitigate negative soil impact --Productive soils can be severely impacted by extreme weather events. Intense rainfall on saturated soils will result in substantial washing of soils particles into streams and waterways. Once erosion occurs on soils it is virtually impossible to correct the damage because soils form over hundreds and thousands of years. Eroding soils also negatively impact water quality in streams and rivers.
Because the probability of extreme weather events is expected to increase in future years, the amount of soil erosion will increase if corrective actions are not taken. Climate predictions of extreme weather events can help farmers plan their cropping and cultural programs to minimize the erosive impact of these events.
Higher temperatures and more soil moisture, expected to occur in Iowa,will accelerate the microbial action in soil. This leads to a faster breakdown of plant materials to form carbon dioxide out of soil carbon,increasing the loss of soil carbon. Soil carbon is a critical ingredient for the long-term productivity of soils. Climate prediction information can help farmers better manage soil carbon levels in light of expected weather events.
Improve crop marketing and planning --Global-scale climate predictions help assess national and world crop production levels. These assessments of production levels are a major driver in determining the price of agricultural crop commodities. Due to the dwindling inventories of world grains, prices levels are extremely sensitive to small changes in expected production. This leads to large swings in grain prices and the opportunity for speculative investing to increases price volatility. Volatile markets increase the financial risk of producers and processors
Climate predictions help anticipate major weather events that impact the production levels of world crops. This will reduce the uncertainty of grain production which will subsequently reduce the volatility of world grain markets. Less volatility will lead to less risk for participants in the supply chain. This risk reduction will lead to a more efficient supply chain and lower and more stable grain and food prices.
Climate predictions of smaller weather events that, due to their timing, have a significant impact on crop yields are also important. Most crops have stages in their development that are especially sensitive to weather conditions. Examples include the pollination period for corn and pod filling for soybeans. The ability to predict climate conditions during these critical development periods can improve the ability to predict crop yields and grain production levels.
Grain prices impact the marketing and production decisions of farmers and agribusinesses. Decreasing the volatility of grain prices will help farmers make more rational grain marketing decisions and better utilize grain marketing tools to increase profit levels.
Global-scale climate predictions help farmers make decisions of which crops to plant. Expected selling price is important for estimating the profitability of crops. Climate predictions of world crop growing conditions and the expected crop prices resulting from these conditions provide information for individual farmer decision making on deciding which crops to plant and/or the relative proportion of each crop to plant.
Ag needs climate prediction information
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H.J. Baker & Bro., Inc.