Land use and climate change

Land use and climate change

Iowa, like other parts of the world, is experiencing the effects of climate change. Though, it is more affected than the rest of the United States, according to a 2019 analysis from the Iowa Policy Project.

The findings reveal a trend of increasingly hot weather in the upper Midwest will worsen if greenhouse gas emissions continue. Historic flooding has battered several parts of the state over the years as floodwaters engulfed western Iowa communities along the Missouri River and eastern Iowa communities along the Mississippi. Further reported from the Iowa Policy project discovered the heightened risk of these damaging natural disasters is due to the impacts of climate change.

James Boulter, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in a report, stated that one of the adverse effects of climate change is evident in the Upper Midwest due to a marked and sustained increase in rain and snowfall−A phenomenon that occurred because of a steady increase in annual precipitation since the 1970s. According to his analysis, the Midwest region will likely experience premature deaths facilitated by increased temperatures brought on by climate change. The area will witness overall average temperatures rise coupled with an increased temperature on the hottest days of the year.

Rural areas may suffer the effect of the hotter temperatures, especially for residents who do not have key access to healthcare, transportation, or adequate shelter. In rural areas, unlike in the city, more people work outdoors. So on intensely hot days, it becomes more challenging for them to do their jobs. An annual survey shows that more than 80% of farmers believe that climate is altering agriculture in Iowa. The Midwest, which includes Iowa, represents about 18% of the US gross domestic product. Trends towards warmer and more humid conditions lead to challenges for fieldwork, pest pressure, and an increase in diseases that ultimately reduce yields to the extent that there is little that technology can do.

There are many ways for farmers like you to increase the resilience of your production systems, capture carbon and reduce greenhouse emissions. Most farmers now adopt multiple adaptation actions. The most prevalent method was scouting for pests and diseases, followed by soil and water conservation practices that reduce erosion and increase water infiltration and holding capacity. These practices protect the soil from extreme rains and help crops cope better with drought.

There is a consensus that agriculture plays an essential role in dealing with climate change. Farm practices like no-till and cover crops can ensure that carbon is captured and stored in the soil. It builds soil health and resilience and reduces atmospheric concentrations of carbon-dioxide.

Water and Land issues

The water and land stewardship program of the Iowa Environmental Council aims to improve and protect Iowa’s water and land, to strengthen Iowa's resiliency, public health, economy, and quality of life. Hence, the council will prioritize agricultural pollution, investing in a diverse, inclusive, and multi-functional Iowa landscape, flood mitigation, and climate resiliency.

Due to run-off and leaching of manure, sediments, and fertilizer from agricultural land, water pollution in Iowa is mainly unregulated. Tile drainage and surface run-off convey pollutants into Iowa's waterways leading to nitrate and bacterial contamination, degraded water quality for recreation, harmful algae blooms, and expensive drinking water treatment. Point sources like water utilities and industrial facilities are subject to regulation, but non-point sources like agricultural land are usually unregulated. Since non-point sources contribute to the pollution in Iowa's waterways, the optional approach to non-point source pollution is ineffective. So the Iowa Environmental Council decided that mandatory best practices like

· Flexibility in individual operations and financial assistance to install conservation practices

· Implementing state-wide water quality standards to deal with contamination from agricultural operations, including nutrients and bacteria

· Ensuring that regulatory agencies enforce water quality laws such as the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act followed by corresponding administrative rules

· Provision of adequate funding for planning, implementing and monitoring the improvement of water quality at the watershed level across the state, Followed by benchmarks and targets for accountability measures to ensure goal implementation

Iowa's natural beauty and outdoor activities can generate revenue and preserve the environment at the same time. Public lands and investments in conservation have various benefits like improved air, water and land quality, mental and physical public health benefits, improved quality of life, increased workforce recruitment and retention, economic development activities, and increased resilience to natural disasters. To bring all these to fruition, the council supports:

· Policies that improve, maintain, and expand recreational opportunities, public parks, and public access to Iowa’s land and water resources

· Providing funds for the protection and restoration of Iowa’s landscapes such as wetlands and prairies that result in increased wildlife habitat and cleaner water

· Long term funding for state and local staff for implementing conservation, water quality, and land stewardship

Flood mitigation and climate resiliency have become necessary because of the impacts of climate change. Flooding increases water pollution, damages habitat, and outdoor spaces, and disrupts economies. Natural infrastructure solutions like wetlands and oxbows, floodplain restoration, and perennial vegetation help hold water on the landscape and reduce floodwater downstream. Although agricultural production contributes the highest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions from the state, it also has significant potential to lead to climate change by implementing practices that reduce carbon emissions and increase climate resiliency across the state. so the council supports:

· implementing natural infrastructure in flood-prone areas to protect communities and reduce the impact of the flood.

· Change in land use practices to reduce greenhouse emissions, hold carbon in the soil and increase climate resiliency.

· Increased support and funding for watersheds and communities to develop climate and flood mitigation plans that incorporate natural infrastructure

More about land use and climate change

Contact us at Midwest Land Management for any other information you may need concerning the effects of climate change in Iowa lands. We are experts in professional farm management and all the nuances associated with land and agricultural production from planning, accounting of incomes and expenses, crop input purchase negotiations, record keeping, inventory management, contract and lease negotiations, and more.

We are licensed to serve clients in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. We diligently work towards client's goals and objectives.