Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change

It is important to distinguish adaptation from mitigation in terms of climate change. Adaptation refers to a response to the changing climate. An example of adaptation is the development of heat or drought resistant crop cultivars that will be able to grow in warmer climates with potentially less water. Mitigation is an intervention to reduce or prevent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or any action that will enhance the removal of atmospheric GHGs through GHG sinks. An example of mitigation would be practicing zero till for agricultural soils, which would reduce the amount of CO2 burned as fuel and prevent the disruption of soil that results in a release of CO2 and N2O.

Adaptation has the potential to reduce the magnitude of challenges associated with climate change and increase the capture of possible benefits. Increasing soil organic matter, implementing flexible cropping systems, and installing well designed drainage systems are examples of on-farm actions that can reduce the impacts of extreme events expected to increase as a result of climate change. Providing responsive insurance programs and supporting stategic research are examples of adaptation responses that governments and industry can offer. In addition to building resilience to extreme conditions, actions like these also enable the agriculture sector to take advantage of potential benefits of climate change such as more heat units or a longer growing season.

Agriculture is dynamic; the sector is constantly adapting to stressors such as market and weather changes. With the conscious development of resources to build adaptive capacity, agriculture can adapt to and meet the challenges presented by climate change.

Growing Conditions are Changing - Here's How Agriculture Can Respond (PDF 248 KB)

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