Scientist: Conservation more important as climate changes

Published online: May 19, 2014
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As weather volatility increases due to climate change, soil conservation practices will become much more critical.

So says USDA scientist Jerry Hatfield, director of the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment at Ames, Iowa.  Hatfield says extreme variability in precipitation will increase soil erosion through either intense rainfalls or droughts and high winds.

“To protect our soil resource and to build climate resilience, we’re going to have to focus on conservation practices that improve carbon storage within the soil, improve its water-holding capacity, improve its infiltration rate—all these different things that will lead to reduced soil erosion as part of this puzzle,” Hatfield says.

Hatfield says protecting soil resources is one of the biggest short-term challenges facing agriculture as a result of climate change.