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Dryland Farming

Dryland Farming

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

Dryland Farming

Location: Fort Collins Weather Station
Featuring: Nolan Doesken, State Climatologist for Colorado

“You can look at climate change as a doomsday scenario, as an inconvenience, or as an opportunity to see what we can do better,” Nolan observes.

“The Western Great Plains have an amazing climate, Nolan says. “It's the part of the country that has the largest year-to-year and day-to-day changes of almost any other part of the country. It's an area of natural extremes to begin with, and that's even before you add the next ingredient, which is climate change in action.”

Farmers in the High Plains depend on rainfall that averages less than 16”per year. While the effects of climate change are difficult to measure in this region, Nolan notes, “Anything that causes warmer weather with possibly fewer and larger precipitation events and possibly quicker onset drought - will require different approaches to how [farmers] manage the biological resources in [their] soil.

“Agriculture can affect not only how they respond to the climate as it may be changing but also how the atmosphere's composition of carbon may in fact change over time as well. Agricultural practices can influence both sides of the climate system.” These practices can include both no-till and and reducing fallow periods in crop rotations to sequester carbon.”