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Can Indiana Farmers Adapt to Climate Change?

Otto Doering

Indiana’s climate is changing. Can Indiana agriculture adjust to the changing climate? A Purdue economist says yes. Otto Doering says the corn belt climate is changing and Indiana farmers will make to make some adjustments to deal with that change, “Corn farmers will have to adjust their planting dates and maturity to try and avoid pollination in very hot summer conditions.”  In addition to short term changes, producers need to consider the slow and gradual warming trends when they make long term investments in the operations, “For example, when they design new livestock housing , you are going to want animal housing that is resilient in dealing with much higher temperatures.” Doering added energy efficiency will also become more important when considering livestock facilities and farm equipment. 


In a presentation to the Indiana Pork Producers Association, Doering said a changing climate will, over time, bring new challenges to Midwestern farmers, “We are going to see new weeds moving up from the south and new insects and diseases making their way into the Corn Belt.” He added improved genetics will help over time, but advances are not likely to come quickly enough to help producers cope with ever increasing weather extremes.  He did not think the 2012 drought was caused by climate change, but its severity may have been influenced by changes in the climate.


While improved hybrids and new technology will help cope with some of these changes, Doering says it will be up to producers to make adjustments to changing weather conditions, “You cannot sit back and count on technology to save you; you are going to have to manage this as well.” He also feels new policies will need to be implemented. He suggested some kind of a grain storage program to hold grain in storage in good years to release when yields fall short. Yet, despite climate change, Doering still believes the Midwest will still be the best place in the world to grow corn and raise livestock.


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