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Tri-State farmers deal with changing weather, climate change

Posted at 8:53 AM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 09:10:13-04

CINCINNATI — Farmers in the region have had to adjust to the changing weather and climate, which could possibly make our food a little more expensive in the long run.

According to Dr. Aaron Wilson, atmospheric scientist with The Ohio State University, nine out of the top 10 warmest years in Ohio have all happened since 1990. Dr. Wilson also works as a climate specialist with OSU Extension in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Dr. Wilson said the two main changes in our area are temperature and precipitation — the winter and spring seasons are both warmer and wetter. Wilson also said low summertime temperatures are rising and there is also more evaporation.

These changes could lead to a delayed harvest and a shorter window to harvest and plant crops.

Similarly, the intense rainfalls in the Tri-State that have occurred recently are not always a good thing.

"You get more soil loss. You get more nutrient loss from the fields," Dr. Wilson said. "So, the fertilizers that were put on, gets washed away into the waterways. That then ends up in our waterbodies."

When fertilizer runs into the waterways, that leads to harmful algal blooms. Soil loss also means costs could rise to maintain fields.

Because of this, workers have to resort to larger, more expensive equipment to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

Another issue is pests.

Wilson said farmers in the Tri-State have to deal with insects that once only stayed in southern states. The climate in the Tri-State is warming up, which helps these insects thrive in the area now.

Dr. Wilson expects conditions to get worse. He predicts we will be three to five degrees warmer by 2050, than we are today. For perspective, Ohio's average temperature has only warmed up 1 1/2 degrees in the last 100 years.

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