Using land for irrigated agriculture can have a significant effect on the regional climate. This is what researchers from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found in their study, published in the journal Global Change Biology.
The team gathered data from 28 humidity and temperature sensors that were installed in Wisconsin’s vegetable-growing Central Sands region over a period of 32 months. When compared to rainfed farms, the researchers discovered that irrigated land decreased maximum everyday temperature by 3.5 °C. This means that irrigation could have a major impact on regional climate, as well as on plant growth, pest pressure, and overall human health.
Could irrigation mitigate the effects of climate change?
Due to global warming, there’s a significant increase in average temperatures worldwide. But irrigated farms could help mitigate the effects of climate change locally. Scientists believe that irrigation could enhance weather and climate forecasts and allow farmers to better prepare their agricultural areas.