April 18, 2021

CINDY DAY: Climate change fodder for farmers – The Register/Advertiser

Thursday, Feb. 21, might not have been the best day for a drive, but I was up before the crack of dawn and on the road as the snow started to fall.

I was headed for Sussex, N.B. I never turn down the opportunity to speak to farmers about the weather. Last week, members of the New Brunswick Soil Crop Improvement Association were holding their 40th annual general meeting and I had the pleasure of being their invited keynote speaker.

I should point out that yes, it “is” a thing. When I told a co-worker why I would not be in the office her reply was, “is that a thing?” I thought it was odd, but how would she know?

The soil and crop movement in New Brunswick began in 1977 through the formation of several local associations. The number of locals grew, and a provincial board comprised of two directors from each local was established. The NBSCI boasts members from every corner of the province.

What do they do?

They conduct educational seminars on a wide range of soil and crop topics. They promote new and innovative farming techniques like no-till trials on grain, soybeans and corn. They discuss pressing issues like waste water management.

That’s right, farmers do more than milk cows and cut hay. Farming has changed, technology has changed, and the agricultural industry is in step with it all.

Another change that’s having an impact on that industry is the weather. The climate is changing at an alarming rate and that is having a very real impact on the way our farmers feed the planet.

On Thursday, I presented scientific evidence of the warming, including:

  • Since the late 19th century, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen 0.9.
  • The five warmest years on record have occurred since 2010.
  • Global sea level rose about 20 cm in the last century.
  • Last month was the warmest January on record – worldwide.

And then, farmers discussed anecdotal evidence that is also undisputable: spring droughts in the northeast, intense rainfall and frequent powerful wind storms are all signs of climate change.

New Brunswick has a total land mass of 7,344,000 hectares, of which approximately five per cent is considered farmland and only roughly two per cent is used for crop production. Much more has agricultural potential.

Sustainable agricultural practices for crop and livestock production are the way of the future and top of mind in New Brunswick.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.