Farmers’ Climate Change Conundrum: Low Yields or Revenue Instability

Farmers’ Climate Change Conundrum: Low Yields or Revenue Instability

News Type: State, Regional, Federal Source: EurekAlert!
Click here to read the article: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/cu-fcc070820.php

Climate change will leave some farmers with a difficult conundrum, according to a new study by researchers from Cornell University and Washington State University: Either risk more revenue volatility, or live with a more predictable decrease in crop yields.

As water shortages and higher temperatures drive down crop yields in regions that depend heavily on seasonal snow, the choice to use more drought-tolerant crop varieties comes at a cost, according to model projections detailed in the paper “Water Rights Shape Crop Yield and Revenue Volatility Tradeoff for Adaptation in Snow Dependent Systems,” published June 10 in Nature Communications.

The study examined the Yakima River Basin in Washington, where a complex combination of snow, reservoirs and water rights controls the availability of irrigation water. That water dictates the success of some of the U.S.’ largest producers of wheat, corn, potatoes, pears, cherries, grapes, apples and hops. With proper snowfall and melt, total agricultural productivity in the basin can reach more than $4 billion a year.