Author Archives: NiccoloDeluca

Climate Change Affecting Coffee Supplies

As global temperatures become increasingly higher, many farmers are noticing a severe impact on their crops. Coffee growers have seen, and predict, a severe impact on their coffee output within the next 25 to 50 years. This phenomenon, along with increasing demand for coffee across the planet, causes researchers to predict an intense coffee shortage in the future.

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Coffee Beans, courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

The actual science behind the impending coffee shortage essentially explains itself. Increasing global temperatures due to global warming causes some farmers to halt coffee production, or move their coffee farms higher into mountains to find colder land habitable for the crop.However, farmers only have so many places to go, and will eventually run out of adequate space to grow coffee crops for current global demand. Along with temperatures rising to the point of being inhabitable to coffee, droughts arising within South America has made it increasingly harder to sustainably grown coffee.

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Coffee Farmer from Guaxupe, Brazil. Courtesy of Bloomberg.com

The numbers behind the impending coffee shortage are staggering. ABC news goes as far to say that coffee production will be halved by 2050. Business Insider reports that wild coffee could be extinct by 2080. For example, due to higher environmental stresses, Brazil is having a hard time increasing their coffee production to current demands as seen in the chart below. Brazil’s troubles can be seen all across the globe, with countries having widespread problems keeping their coffee production numbers intact. With the world consuming 2.25 billion cups of coffee per day, consumption isn’t halting anytime soon.

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Chart of Brazil’s Coffee Output, courtesy of Bloomberg.com

People will either need to change their habits to halt global warming, or find a sustainable substitute for their coffee intake. Either way, the fact of the matter is that global temperature increases are beginning to extremely affect coffee production, and will continue to impact other crops as well.

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Dry Farming: Tackling Water Scarcity in California

As the drought is becoming more and more impactful on California’s agriculture, farmers are turning to unique methods in order to keep growing their crops. Water scarcity is increasing by the day, and farmers are scrambling for solutions. One of these methods is known as “dry farming”, a technique that has been around for thousands of years.

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Dry farming basically explains itself. There is essentially no irrigation used whatsoever, with farmers purely relying on the moisture already trapped within soil. Therefore, farmers look for high quality soil that can retain moisture in an area that gets at least 10 to 20 inches of rainfall per year. Although these parameters might be hard to find in some areas, farmers in northern and coastal regions of California, from Napa to Santa Barbara, have found this method of agriculture to be effective.

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Although one might be skeptical of this approach, saying that relying on soil moisture is not enough to allow a crop to grow, farmers have proved time and time again that dry farming works. By spacing out crops, and allowing root structures to spread and reach moisture within the dirt, plants are able to flourish without irrigation. Farmers have used dry farming techniques for crops such as olives, apples, grapes, watermelons, a variety of grains, and tomatoes – just to name a few.

There are some downsides to dry farming, however. Firstly, one can not guarantee a plentiful yield on dry farmed crops every year. With soil composition constantly changing, and moisture levels completely dependent upon the environment, the amount of crops coming out of a farm every year will change. Secondly, with less water being used, the size of the crops may vary, such as a smaller size – but more concentrated taste – in apples. Lastly, dry farmed plots of agriculture take longer to develop, due to the root structures of plants needing to spread out and establish themselves before then can yield produce. 

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Despite the obstacles that dry farming presents, farmers have been very successful in recent years with dry farming techniques. There are even farmers that have been dry farming before the drought was impacting agriculture, such as Stan Devoto, who as been using this agricultural practice since 1970. Although these farmers may face challenges regarding dry farming, communities can team up and share their knowledge to increase their crop’s yields. This method of agriculture can become widespread and be at least part of the solution to farming during California’s water shortage.

Sources:

  1. http://agwaterstewards.org/index.php/practices/dry_farming/
  2. http://www.cuesa.org/article/farming-without-water
  3. http://cropsfordrylands.com/wp-content/uploads/Dryland-Farming-Crops-Tech-for-Arid-Regions.pdf

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