Farm field in Madison County, NY
Image by Tess Southern

Farm in Madison County, NY

Climate Smart Farming

The consequences of climate change are already being felt throughout the Northeast, and climate trends indicate these challenges will continue and increase in the future. Understanding climate impacts of the region and areas on the farm most vulnerable to these changes are necessary for protecting both production and profitability. Implementing climate adaptation strategies which moderate harm or capitalize on beneficial opportunities of current and future climate conditions will allow farmers to respond to climate conditions while protecting production and ecosystem services such as carbon storage, water and nutrient cycling, wildlife habitats, and tourism.

Climate Impact Areas in the Northeast

Northeast climate data indicates an increase in the average annual temperature, an increase in days with temperatures greater than 95℉, an increase in average annual precipitation and extreme precipitation events, and an increase in the frost-free growing season (Janowiak et al. 2016, 9-11). Trends such as increased frost-free growing season length can offer benefits to farmers, however, many of the climate trends have the potential to decrease production for both crops and livestock. With these climate trends, producers can expect, and may already see, climate impacts of increased heavy precipitation, increased short-term drought periods, changes in season length and character, increased potential for heat-stress in livestock and crops, and changes in pest and disease pressure.

Climate Smart Farming Strategies

Climate Smart Farming (CSF) is the collection of farming practices which increase productivity, adaptation to current and expected climate conditions, mitigation of greenhouse gases, and achievement of food security (“Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook”, 2013). Adopting these practices supports farm production, environmental stewardship, and economic and food security of the surrounding communities. Climate Smart Farming involves strategies in soil health, water management, pest management, diversifying enterprises, heat-stress management, farm planning support, and ecosystem preservation.

Review the following resources to learn more about climate change, climate smart farming, and implementation of CSF strategies:

Resources

Learn about climate change:

Learn about climate smart farming:

  • Cornell University’s Climate Smart Farming site provides a variety of researched tools and resources to aid farmers in learning about and implementing practices 

Additional resources for climate smart farming strategies:

References

Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Rome, Italy: UN-FAO, 2013.

Janowiak, Maria, Daniel Dostie, Michael Wilson, Michael Kucera, Howard Skinner, Jerry Hatfield, David Hollinger, and Christopher Swanston. Adaptation Resources for Agriculture: Responding to Climate Variability and Change in the Midwest and Northeast. Technical Bulletin 1944. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2016.

Last updated November 24, 2019