Dr. Jerry Hatfield of the USDA-ARS lab in Ames, Iowa spoke at Old No. 1 as part of the Midwest Farm Energy Conference. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

Increasing global temperatures have a tremendous impact on plants, already leading some farmers to change what they grow, according to Nobel Laureate Dr. Jerry Hatfield, who was the keynote speaker for the Midwest Farm Energy Conference organized by the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris. The keynote dinner was attended by over 100 people at Old No. 1 in Morris. Hatfield is a research scientist and director of the USDA ARS lab in Ames, Iowa, a state where maximum temperatures in the summer have been going down a bit, but minimum temperatures have been going up.

The increasing minimum temps, Hatfield said, increase respiration at night, which leaves plants with nothing left to put into the ground. This in turn diminishes the capacity to produce a crop and hastens the rate of maturity. Kentucky, he noted, has had to shift to growing wheat because parts of the state are no longer good for growing corn. Hatfield made the case for more crop diversification across farm country, to both sustain the soil and to buttress the effects of climate change.

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