According to new work by researchers from Cornell University and the University of Washington, some farmers will have problems due to climate change: either they will have to risk higher income volatility, or the cost of the crop will drop steadily. It is reported by Nature Communications.
Water scarcity and high temperatures reduce crop yields in the regions, and using drought-resistant crop varieties are expensive.
The study examined the Yakima River Basin in Washington, a water body powered by snow. reservoirs. Thanks to this river, the largest producers of wheat, corn, potatoes, pears, cherries, grapes, apples, and hops, which are nearby, can achieve a total productivity of $4 billion a year.
The research team sought to quantify the direct and indirect effects of climate change on irrigated agriculture in the basin. Researchers also wanted to know if drought-resistant crop varieties could help restore yields during drought.
The team found that drought and high temperatures resulted in lower yields, as expected. The team then used its model to study the potential of new drought-tolerant crop varieties that are expected to increase annual yields under climate change. The results showed that although these varieties are more tenacious, farmers can still experience higher volatility of crop income.
Researchers argue that optimal productivity will be achieved while improving crop varieties, for example, by maintaining agrobiodiversity, and in combination with improving the water supply system.