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Friday, April 01, 2011
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USDA Invests in Projects Looking at the Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Forests

By Susanne Stahl

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is investing $20 million dollars into each of three major studies looking at the effects of climate change on agriculture and forest production.

1. Dr. Lois Wright Morton of Iowa State University will lead a research team estimating the carbon, nitrogen and water footprints of corn production in the Midwest. The team will evaluate the effects of various crop management practices when various climate models are applied. The Iowa State project, which includes researchers from 11 institutions in nine states, will integrate education and outreach components across all aspects of the project, specifically focusing on a place-based education and outreach program called “I-FARM.”  This interactive tool will help the team analyze the economic, agronomic and social acceptability of using various crop management practices to adapt and mitigate to the effects of climate change.

2. Dr. Tim Martin, of the University of Florida, will lead a team looking at climate change mitigation and adaptation as it relates to southern pines, particularly loblolly pine, which comprises 80 percent of the planted forestland in the Southeast. The team of 12 institutions will establish a regional network to monitor the effects of climate and management on forest carbon sequestration.  Research in the project will provide information that can be used to guide planting of pine in future climates, and to develop management systems that enable forests to sequester more carbon and to remain robust in the face of changing climate.

3. Dr. Sanford Eigenbrode, of the University of Idaho, willlead a team monitoring changes in soil carbon and nitrogen levels and greenhouse gas emissions related to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change in the region’s agriculture, which produces 13 percent of the nation’s wheat supply and 80 percent of its specialty soft white wheat for export. The research team will look at the effects of current and potential alternative cropping systems on greenhouse gas emissions, carbon, nitrogen and water-levels and how that, in turn, affects the local and regional farm economy.

“Climate change has already had an impact on agriculture production," said NIFA Director Roger Beachy. “These projects ensure we have the best available tools to accurately measure the effects of climate change on agriculture, develop effective methods to sustain productivity in a changing environment and pass these resources on to the farmers and industry professionals who can put the research into practice.”

For further details, see the full press release here.

Posted in: Energy & Climate

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