Out of all the adverse effects of global warming on humanity, one of the most affected is the agricultural sector. If steps are not taken to resolve this problem, the world may experience food insecurity, poverty, and famine. Find out more about the impact of global warming on agriculture. Learn how this environmental issue reduces yields and the nutritional value of crops.
Reduces and Increases Yields
Climate change affects agriculture in several ways. For instance, the higher temperature may reduce yields due to the speed of the development process. Extreme heat also gets in the way of plants’ ability to use moisture.
However, global warming can also increase yields due to its enhancement of photosynthesis through carbon emissions. The gasses help with wheat, rice, and soybeans. But scientists have yet to prove its effectiveness. All they know is that it does not help with sugarcane, maize, and other C4 crops.
Fluctuations in Rainfall
Aside from the effects of temperature on agriculture, global warming’s fluctuating rainfalls can also affect the sector. Droughts and floods reduce crop yields, reducing food supply worldwide and disrupting agricultural practices.
Extreme rainfall and drought can also harm the safety of farmers, rendering them jobless. In developing countries, drought is a huge factor contributing to malnutrition, food insecurity, and poverty.
Crop irrigation can reduce the impacts of high temperatures and low rainfall. But this can be inaccessible to small business owners and farmers because of the high costs.
Lower Nutritional Value of Crops
Because of global warming, some crops may grow with little to no nutritional value. For example, due to carbon emissions and extreme heat, wheat may contain less protein and minerals. Studies have shown that food crops can see up to 17% of decreased iron, zinc, and protein.
Aside from that, studies also proved that increased carbon dioxide emissions could reduce micronutrients in non-crop plants, leading to decreased vitamin B. Such deficiency can affect other parts of our ecosystem.
Global warming has now led to 10-15% of global harvest being conquered by pathogens. This number is likely to rise as plants become exposed to pests. That’s because the warm temperature can enhance these insects’ metabolism and breeding processes. Another contributing factor is higher latitude, where certain insect species thrive.
Such observation coincides with the idea that colder temperatures are used to kill insects, fungi, and bacteria. Meanwhile, the warmer months allow fungal plant diseases to grow.
Increased flooding also promotes pest and disease growth. But drought conditions are when locusts grow. For instance, this occurs in some East African countries at the start of 2020.
Like other cultivated crops, weeds also love carbon dioxide fertilization. They will compete with your actual crops as the air warms and humidity boosts.
Similarly, climate change can increase fungal diseases by changing the interactions between pathogens and hosts. In the future, it could even change the developmental stages of plant pathogens, affecting crop diseases and yield.
One way to manage this issue is to use pesticides. You may also try biological control agents, such as planting rows of native plants between crops.