“It will be important to devise more resilient agricultural production systems that can absorb and survive more variability,” argues Fred Kirschenmann, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. At his own family farm in North Dakota, Kirschenmann has struggled with two years of abnormal weather that nearly eliminated one crop and devastated another. Diversified farms will cope better with drought, increased pests, and a range of other climate-related jolts. And they will tend to be less reliant on fertilizers and pesticides, and the fossil fuel inputs they require. Climate change might also be the best argument for preserving local crop varieties around the world, so that plant breeders can draw from as wide a palette as possible when trying to develop plants that can cope with more frequent drought or new pests.
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