“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”*
After reading through the special report, “How the Weather is Changing Agriculture,” that will appear in the September issue of Farm Equipment, I’m not convinced that anyone should do anything about the weather.
While there’s a lot ranting about global warming, these days, at least one expert says, he agrees that it is happening, but it doesn’t concern him much.
Dennis Avery, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues, agrees that the earth has been warming since around 1710. The difference is — he doesn’t believe it’s a bad thing.
“Since the last ice age we have experienced seven intense cold periods and seven global warmings,” Avery says. And when he lines up those cooling and warming periods with recorded human history, he comes to another interesting conclusion.
“Global warmings have been the good times for humans, animals and vegetables,” he says. “The ‘Little Ice Ages’ have been desperately bad. That’s when you get shorter, cloudier growing seasons, earlier frosts and violent floods.”
He adds that Chinese researcher, Zhibin Zhang, has examined the Chinese records for the last 1,000 years and says 80% of wars, rebellions and collapsed dynasties have occurred during these Little Ice Ages.
But speaking of no one doing anything about the weather, that’s not exactly true either. Farmers, with the help of equipment manufacturers and crop geneticists, are indeed trying.
Also in our special weather report, which was compiled by Martha Mintz, one of our contributing editors, a survey of farmers who read No-Till Farmer indicates that growers are adapting to changing weather patterns as best as they can by looking at new equipment, different inputs and even growing practices.
First, nearly 67% of the 315 farmers who responded to the survey agree that the weather is indeed becoming more volatile and challenging for growers. Another 24% said they planned changes in their weather management strategies that have resulted in their purchase of new equipment to cope with changing weather patterns.
When asked, “In what ways have you changed your farm management strategies to offset variable weather and risk?” the top responses included:
- Switching to no-till or minimum-tillage for moisture conservation 64%
- Growing biotech crops or hybrids developed to deal with environmental stresses 40.6%
- Applying fertilizer in season 39.9%
In times like this year, the weather can be disconcerting enough for farmers that they’ll hold off on equipment purchases. When asked, “Has the weather volatility in your area caused you to hold off on an equipment purchase?” nearly 40% of the farmers said, “yes.”
Check out the September issue of Farm Equipment for the full report.
As an aside, you may have noticed the asterisk (*) following the quotation at the top of this column. That’s because when I quote someone in anything I write, I try to check and make sure it’s properly attributed. I expected to find Mark Twain as the source of the quote, but when I checked it out, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” But according to my research, the first reference to Mark Twain and this quotation came in 1905. At least two earlier references, one in 1884 and another in 1889, show that Charles Dudley Warner, an editor at the Hartford Courant, actually coined the phrase. Just in case you’re interested in these things, you can check it out here.