1. Agriculture World

New Zealand Crops at Risk if Carbon Emissions aren't Reduced, says Research

A lot of fruit crops require chilling to have a good flowering and fruit set and now they're having some problems in northern regions where the winters are too warm.

Shivam Dwivedi
Crop field in New Zealand
Crop field in New Zealand

According to agriculture scientists, if nothing is done to reduce carbon emissions, the crops grown in New Zealand and where they are planted will change. The effect of increased CO2 on food production is being studied in Bulls. As part of the experiment, the same level of CO2 that is expected in 2050 is pumped onto the grass.

"Co2 is basically like sugar for plants," said AgResearch researcher Zac Beechey-Gradwell. "All other things being equal, more Co2 will increase plant growth."

The experiment has been running for 24 years, and according to Beechey-Gradwell, "we saw big increases in pasture growth in the first five years, but those differences in the following five years were not as large."

Scientists used the data collected in conjunction with climate change predictions to better understand future pasture growth.

Dr Mark Lieffering, an AgResearch scientist, told that "warmer temperatures will increase pasture growth, areas like Hawke's Bay, spring becomes earlier, the summer peak is less."

According to Plant and Food Research modeling, if emissions are not reduced, apples will not grow in parts of the North Island, but will grow in Southland.

"A lot of fruit crops require chilling to have a good flowering and fruit set," Plant and Food Research Scientist Hamish Brown told, "and now we're having some problems in northern regions where the winters are too warm."

"As temperatures rise, crops develop faster, so the same crop will be growing for a shorter period of time, reducing yield," he explained.

Meanwhile, climate scientist James Renwick predicts that "heavy rainfall events, droughts, and extremely hot conditions will last longer." It will be difficult for many ecosystems as well as many of the crops we grow." This means that farmers will have to make difficult decisions about how they will operate in the future.

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