In the sixth annual Iowa Climate Change Statement, Iowa researchers and educators urged farmers to adopt conservation practices to rebuild and protect Iowa soils and store carbon.
Those conservation practices include reducing cropland tillage and turning marginal croplands into land set-aside programs with perennial plants. The practices can help address water quality issues such as nitrogen and phosphorus runoff and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.
“Iowa farmers are experiencing real impacts from climate change, including heavier rains, increased flooding and soil erosion,” Jerry Schnoor, the co-director of the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, said in a press release.
Schnoor, one of the lead authors of the statement, said he believed Iowa could be a leader in climate-smart agriculture just as it has played a key role in wind energy. Iowa is first in the nation for wind energy production as a percentage of total energy production and second in the nation for installed capacity.
The press release published along with the statement highlighted ways climate change has already impacted Iowa and concerns about future repercussions. Those climate change impacts include a greater frequency of intense rains over the past 50 years and concerns that warming temperatures could affect human health, agriculture and economic stability.
For example, as temperatures climb, species that were previously unable to survive Iowa’s colder climate could spread northward, impacting human health by spreading diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks and impacting agriculture by introducing new agricultural pests and diseases.
The statement was signed by 187 researchers and science faculty members at 39 Iowa colleges and universities.