American farmers, having endured the wettest 12 months in well over a hundred years and facing predictions that this could be the soggy new normal for the nation’s midsection, are looking at a variety of ways to speed up their processes next year, according to Bloomberg.
Mired by a rainy and chilly spring, U.S. farmers may soon give up on planting corn in rain-soaked parts of the Farm Belt because it is getting too late for money-making yields, said economist Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois. "I truly believe we are in 'black swan' territory as far as late corn planting is concerned," he said over the weekend, using a term popularized during the financial crisis a decade ago.
Climate change is bringing a longer and warmer growing season to the Northeast along with heavy rainfall that can delay spring planting, says a study led by Cornell scientists.
The harmful effects of fertilizer runoff are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, as more extreme precipitation washes excess nutrients into U.S. waterways, causing dead zones, says a study published in Science. “The authors found that future climate change-driven increases in rainfall in the United States could boost nitrogen runoff by as much as 20 percent by the end of the century,” says The New York Times.
Spring and early summer are the wet season for the northern Plains, a cattle, wheat, and corn-growing region, so the dry start to this year’s growing season could have a lasting impact, says the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor.
The disappearance of "biocrusts" in the world’s deserts may help slow climate change — though not without consequences, says a 10-year study in the journal Scientific Reports. Biocrusts are the “tangled masses of mosses, lichens and cyanobacteria” that emerge from the desert floor in places like the Sonoran desert in the American southwest and the Colorado plateau.
Powerful snow and rain storms are filling reservoirs "and all but ending the five-year drought across much of northern California," says the San Jose Mercury News. It quoted Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC-Davis, as saying, "California is a dry state and probably always will be in most years but we certainly don't have a statewide drought right now."
More than half the flow of rivers in the upper Colorado Basin is derived from groundwater, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Society. The study's authors hope it will compel state water managers to ask important questions, since rivers are a key source of irrigation and drinking water across the west. For instance, should a farmer’s use of a nearby river be limited if he or she is also pumping large amounts of groundwater?