Everett Griner talks about crop losses due to weather in today’s Agri View.
By Benjamin D. Duval, Contributing writer for EarthSky
Researchers found that extreme heat and drought between 1964 and 2007 account for about a 10% decline in global cereal crop production.
A study published in the journal Nature on January 7, 2016, provides evidence that historic trends of extreme weather lowers crop production at a global scale.
Corey Lesk and colleagues used a unique statistical approach on data available from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). They considered not only extremely high temperatures, but also drought, flooding and severe cold. They looked at how those climate anomalies affect cereal grain production and concluded that extreme heat and drought between 1964 and 2007 account for about a 10% decline in global cereal crop production.
Another novel aspect of their study is to include measures other than yield – amount of grain produced by the plant – to consider the entirety of crop production. An insight gained from this approach is that – while developed countries suffer the most total crop losses due to weather extremes – this is because those countries tend to have more advanced agriculture, therefore producing more crops per hectare, ergo a greater total yield loss due to a single event. That does not necessarily mean as significant a loss for deliverable crops that would be experienced in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, that face greater challenges to get food to market.
In sum, weather extremes can disproportionately affect areas that already struggle with food security.
About the writer: Benjamin D. Duval is a research scientist interested in understanding human influence on global biogeochemical processes, and ecological issues related to land use change. Dr. Duval attended Northern Arizona University and New Mexico State University for his graduate work, and is a proud alumnus of The College of Wooster’s Biology Department. You’ll find his personal web page at benjaminduval.net.