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Adaptation To Climate Change Through Adaptive Crop Management

Dave Watson
Published 2019 · Business

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In order to meet the growing needs of the global food system, whilst at the same time mitigating the effects of climate change and other production limiting factors and reducing negative environmental externalities, maize, wheat and rice agri-food systems will be required to sustainably intensify production. In the irrigated systems of developing countries, significant scope exists for increasing water use efficiency through new soil, water and fertiliser management approaches (such as Conservation Agriculture, Direct Seeding, Alternate Wetting and Drying, Site Specific Nutrient Management and Nutrient Expert) and crop diversification. In addition to the development of weather agro-advisory services and weather index insurance, the options available in rain-fed systems differ markedly from those available in irrigated systems, namely, to optimise every drop of available rainfall or to avoid drought stress situations. Whilst breeding for heat tolerance and diversified cropping systems are likely to be the principal short-term responses to increased mean global temperatures and extreme heat events, changes over the longer term are predicted to be quite dramatic, especially with regard to a productive expansion of temperate crops towards the poles. Whilst significant opportunities exist to ameliorate the effects of climate change, these opportunities generally involve risk. In developed countries, the private sector (seed, fertiliser, pesticide, irrigation, credit and insurance suppliers) is generally at hand to advise farmers how to address the challenges posed by climate change. Conversely, in most developing countries, there are few sources of advice and support for smallholder farmers. This situation leaves many smallholder farmers in developing countries without the advice and support that they desperately need. Ultimately, the most vulnerable farmers and communities, namely, smallholder subsistence and market oriented farmers in marginal environments, are those who face the most extreme climate change-related challenges at the same time as being the least able to adapt. Whilst international agricultural research centres (CGIAR), advanced research and development-focused centres of developed countries, and both local and international NGOs strive to both develop and translate evolving crop management approaches; the dissemination of climate smart agricultural practices is extremely slow.
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