They say history repeats itself—it sure seems that way when it comes to the end of the year and global temperature records. It’s become almost an annual right of passage that with the turning of the calendar we start to hear about how the year-that-was saw some of the highest global temperatures in recorded history and how these subtle changes in the climate resulted in more weather-related damage.

It seems that 2023 has kept this streak alive.

An example of this was the announcement last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that 2023 has an almost 100% chance of being the hottest year ever recorded. This sounds very familiar to the news that came out last January about how the eight years prior to 2023 had themselves been the hottest on record.

Let’s see—2023 looks to be the hottest year that mankind has recorded so far and the last eight years all rank as the hottest we’ve ever seen. Yep... sure seems like there is a trend here.

Throw into the mix that NOAA announced back in August that 2023 had already set a record for the number of weather-related disasters with a price tag of $1 billion or more and you start to see that the slow, methodical effects of climate change are still marching on.

So, what do we do?

Well, when it comes to production agriculture at least there is quite a bit that can be done, and the actions that we can take can both better prepare our farms and ranches for the increase in extreme weather we are seeing while also helping to reduce some of the root causes of climate change.

Practices like no-till, cover crops and improved pasture management have all been shown to help “harden” agriculture operations to extreme weather events like droughts and floods while at the same time helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions. They also have the added benefit of lowering input costs.

USDA has reported that by switching to no-till alone farmers can reduce their fuel use by as much as six gallons per acre per year, meaning less emissions going into the atmosphere while also saving money. By tying no-till and cover crops together, ag producers can also increase organic matter, and with it the soil’s ability to hold on to water. Some studies have shown that just a 1% increase in organic matter can result in as much as 25 thousand gallons of water available per acre per year for growing crops and forage, helping farmers and ranchers better weather drought while also reducing the impacts of flooding.

Studies have also shown that producers can save as much as $50 an acre in fertilizer costs by switching to these “climate smart” ag practices while also opening up opportunities for additional income from grazing cover crops—and I haven’t even touched on what these practices can do for carbon sequestration, soil erosion or water quality.

By switching to “climate smart” or “soil health” practices, ag producers can do a lot of good for themselves and the environment. That’s good news, because it sure looks like this trend of increased temperatures and more extreme weather is here to stay.

Related Content: 

Earthworms Play Vital Role for Growers Using Cover Crops,

Cover Crops Can Help Operations Sequester Carbon, Prepare for Extreme Weather,

Using Cover Crops to Combat Drought Effects