Study examines climate change effects on crop mix shift, transportation

Sep 24, 2013 by Blair Fannin
Drought conditions in Texas and throughout the U.S. the past decade have not only caused crops to fail, but farmers have had to alter the mix of commodities planted as a result of changing weather patterns. Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin

(Phys.org) —Drought conditions in Texas and throughout the U.S. the past decade have not only caused crops to fail, but farmers have had to alter the mix of commodities planted to better adapt to a changing environment.

That could potentially lead to changes in the way are transported, according to researchers.

In Texas, traditional portfolios of grown are beginning to experience change as a result of the environment, swings in prices paid for individual crops and the supply and demand outlook.

"Cropping shifts have occurred in Texas with additional land moving out of crops into grazing use and possible northward shifts in locations of cotton and ," said Dr. Bruce McCarl, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research Senior Faculty Fellow and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University.

McCarl recently co-authored, "Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Grain Transport," which was published recently in the journal, Nature Climate Change.

"We have also seen a corn acreage increase mainly due to bioenergy demands and high market prices," he said. "Such developments can be partially linked to climate change issues, given the expressed goals of the renewable fuel standards involved with greenhouse gas emissions reduction."

Crop mix shift is often a consequence of climate change and such shifts may change the demands grain places on transport systems, according to the study. The research evaluated corn and soybean growing regions such as the Corn Belt, Great Plains and the Lake states.

The study investigated the effects of climate change and how it could decrease Great Lakes water levels, shorten the duration of ice cover in the winter, and alter grain supplies in grain-exporting countries.

McCarl and researchers found that crop production effects "stimulate changes in crop mixes and crop location, and that this causes altered supply and in turn less barge usage as the subsequent supply is less proximate to the river with more grain going east and west by rail."

Crop mix shifts lessen the role of Lower Mississippi River ports, though increases Pacific Northwest ports, Great Lakes and Atlantic ports. The study also found there was a shift in barge to rail and truck transport.

Another outcome of the study found one possible consequence of would be reduced grain production in many world regions. The Ukrain, Serbia, Moldova and Kazakhstan would likely be affected and compete with the Great Lakes ports for exports. Between 30 and 50 percent reductions in exports would result from those countries.

Explore further: US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

More information: www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n7/full/nclimate1892.html

Related Stories

Changes in crops acres since freedom to farm

Apr 12, 2010

The 1996 U.S. Farm Bill eliminated many acreage restrictions, thereby allowing farmers to plant what they believe to be their most competitive crops. A study conducted by University of Illinois agricultural ...

Corn, grain prices push to record highs

Jul 25, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The future of corn prices and the impact on fed livestock continues to be an unfolding, tumultuous situation, but some degree of clarity should be coming to the story in the next few weeks, according ...

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...