Extreme Heat Poses Serious Threat to Ag

Extreme Heat Poses Serious Threat to Ag

July 31, 2011 Roots of Change

For those of us in California this summer may have been filled with great weather conditions. Unfortunately, this is not the case across most of the U.S where many places experienced record high temperatures. These high temperatures not only pose a serious threat to humans, but greatly affect agriculture and livestock.

During hot times most of us have the luxury to use air conditioning to help us cool down or find shade. But how do farm animals cope?  In Heat, Humidity and Windless Days are Bad News for Cattle, beef specialist Kris Ringwall from North Dakota State University explains how cattle are affected by the heat.

    Cattle do not have a mechanism to dissipate their internal body heat production effectively. The body needs to function at a preset temperature range, so when that temperature gets out of the acceptable range, internal alerts sound load and clear. The cattle will die unless their body temperature is restored to a normal range.

Unable to maintain their bodies at a cool temperature, these cattle fall victim to heat exhaustion. According to The Daily Republic, it is reported that in South Dakota at least 1,500 cattle have died due to heat exhaustion.

Cattle aren’t the only ones literally frying. Extreme heat conditions stress crops like corn and soybeans causing significant yield reductions.  As farmers struggle with losses this burden will eventually be transferred to the consumer with higher prices in food.  A recent study by The National Center for Atmospheric Research found that “routine weather events like a hot day or a heavy downpour can cost the economy as much as $485 billion in crop losses”. It seems the weather continues to change, but is it something we can continue to afford?

As we move into the future, we’ll have to continue thinking about new ways to ensure a long-term production system that is both efficient and sustainable.  In addition, more people — from concerned citizens to farmers– will need to start thinking about different ways everyone can take steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.  On this note, Roots of Change would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment to share your ideas about reducing our impacts on the climate.

To learn more about today’s special please check out:

Heat, Humidity and Windless Days are Bad News for Cattle

Sizzle Factor for a Restless Climate

Massive Heat Wave Could Cause Corn Prices To Pop