By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
LONDON, Ohio — Corn Belt farmers are likely aware of changes in long-term weather, as are researchers at The Ohio State University. Those researchers would like to reach out to farmers to help them adapt to weather changes and to learn better ways for the two groups to communicate.
Aaron Wilson and Jason Cervenec will be talking about local climate trends at the Farm Science Review (FSR) on Sept. 21, at 1 p.m. at the Small Farm Center. They are both with OSU’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center – Wilson is a senior research associate and Cervenec is outreach director. Both men are also extension educators.
“If you look at the seasonal changes in temperature across much of the Corn Belt region, the wintertime temperatures have been warming about twice as fast as the summertime temperatures,” Wilson said.
“Comparing the earliest 20th century to conditions that we have now, we still have the variable year-to-year changes, but overall the trend across the Corn Belt is a warming trend of 0.2 degree Fahrenheit per decade over the last hundred years.”
It is key that, relatively, nights are warming more quickly than days. That trend is tied to the fact that there is more moisture in the atmosphere, the researchers believe.
Also, while annual precipitation has increased, it is not evenly distributed in all seasons, Wilson said. In Ohio, observed changes since the mid 20th-century show increased summer and fall precipitation.
“We anticipate that our springtime precipitation can increase in the future,” he explained. “If you think about having these events where we have 2 to 4 inches of rain, where a lot of nutrients can be flushed out, you also get soil movement and loss.”
Wilson and Cervenec will help local farmers understand the changes that have already occurred and those that are anticipated over the next 50 years. The researchers can inform producers about adaptation steps they can take now. They will help to connect people with the data and to understand what that data mean over the longterm, Cervenec said.
Their goal is to figure out what people want to see by crop or livestock variety so they can customize that information, he added.
There are a massive amount of data available, but individual producers want certain indicators – like, when is the last frost going to hit? What is average temperature going to be at night?
“If you are going to be in this for 20 or 30 more years and you are going to build any infrastructure or lay field tile, is that field tile going to be of sufficient capacity to drain those heavy rainfall events?” Cervenec mused.
“Don’t build something that is not going to be able to handle loads that you are going to have to put on it in the future.
“Think about what your risks are and what changes your part of the state is going to see, and base your decisions accordingly.”
At the FSR, Wilson and Cervenec will demonstrate the new FARM precipitation database and additional visualizations, as well as provide information on current weather and recent climate. They also encourage producers to call the State Climate Office of Ohio with questions and to visit https://climate.osu.edu