Extension educator discusses climate resiliency

Average temperature projected to climb in coming decades

Staff photo by Fritz Busch University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership Extension Educator Katie Black talks about changing climate challenges, its effects on our lives and the lives of our children, and how to contribute to the healing of the earth at the Dawg Haus Bar and Grill in Sleepy Eye Thursday.

SLEEPY EYE — If emissions are not reduced, the average Minnesota temperature will increase several degrees in the coming decades at the expense of grain production, according to an extension educator with the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership.

“Climate risks impact all of farming, according to research,” said Katie Black at a Brown County Farmers Union meeting at the Dawg Haus Bar and Grille.

“Winter is warming the fastest out of every season and especially in Minnesota,” Black said.

“Climate models vary on whether we can cut emissions. Carbon is the main gas we’re talking about. By mid century, Minnesota’s average temperature is projected to increase five or six degrees,” Black said.

She added that Minnesota’s average number of days above 90 degrees F. are expected to increase.

“Counties across state during the 1930s had 20-40 days of 90 degree temperatures. From 2040 to 2060, Brown County is projected to have 40-59 days of 90 degrees of more,” Black said.

She said nightly low temperatures above 70 degrees are projected to increase more so in southern Minnesota in future decades.

“That will reduce grain weight per corn plant and produce smaller corn kernels,” said Black.

She said producers should be prepared for more weather extremes in the coming years.

Black said options to consider in dealing with climate change include stewardship, crop insurance, emergency relief, GPS, remote precision agriculture, crop diversification, livestock integration, cover crops, less tillage, irrigation and using risk assessment tools.

“Nearly three-fourth of the U.S. population believes in climate change but only about one-third of us even occasionally talk about it,” Black said.

“It’s not all doom and gloom. Plants like sorghum are very drought and moisture tolerant,” she added.

With support from the State of Minnesota to model Minnesota’s future climate, the Minnesota Corn Grower’s Association, MCAP is developing and delivering research-based Extension programming and content to help Minnesota’s agricultural sector respond to a changing climate, build resilient farming operations and a thriving agricultural economy.

Project goals include more understanding of future climate and extreme weather across Minnesota; creating strategies and recommendations for decisions including seed selection, cover crops, tillage, and other practices to manage weather and climate risks.

Other goals include providing easy access to resources, technical support and training for understanding and engaging in climate-smart risk management and decisions; guidance on replacement of aging agricultural infrastructure such as manure storage and tile systems to suit future weather and climate plus investments in production stewardship practices that sustain profitability, improve air quality and strengthen resilience for weather and climate extremes.

Black recommended reading “The Climate Action Handbook” by Heidi Roop.

Everyday choices like washing clothes in cold instead of hot water is a way to help cut carbon pollution.

The guide lists many idea like eating more plant-based meals, using slower shipping for deliveries, eating more fresh food, voting in every election, reducing driving speed, supporting healthy soils in gardens and community green spaces, engaging in local climate action planning, deleting unusual emails and online accounts and regularly maintaining heating and cooling systems.

For more information, visit climate.umn.edu


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