University of agribusiness and rural development, UARD Jubilee International Scientific Conference

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Influence Of Climate Changes On Agriculture
Svetla Dimitrova

Last modified: 2018-02-12


Over the past centuries, the Earth’s climate has been changing due to a number of natural processes, such as gradual variation in solar radiation and more importantly, sudden volcanic eruptions in which solid matter, aerosols and gases are ejected into the atmosphere. Ecosystems have adapted continuously to these natural changes in climate, and flora and fauna have evolved in response to the gradual modifications to their physical surroundings, or have become extinct. Human beings have also been affected by and have adapted to changes in local climate, which, in general terms, have occurred very slowly. Over the past century, however, human activities have begun to affect the global climate. These effects are due not only to population growth, but also to the introduction of technologies developed to improve the standard of living. Human-induced changes have taken place much more rapidly than natural changes. The scale of current climate forcing is unprecedented and can be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, urbanization, and changing land use and agricultural practices.

The increasing concentration of the so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is altering the Earth’s radiation balance and causing the temperature to rise. This process in turn provides the context for a chain of events which leads to changes in the different components of the hydrological cycle, such as evapotranspiration rate, intensity and frequency of precipitation, river flows, soil moisture and groundwater recharge. Mankind is expected to respond to these effects by taking adaptive measures including changing patterns of land use, adopting new strategies for soil and water management and looking for non-conventional water. In the rainfed areas with no water management systems some improvements can be achieved with water harvesting and watershed management. However, in no way can the cultivated area with no water management contribute significantly to the required increase in food production. For this reason, the share of irrigated and drained areas in food production will have to increase. This can be achieved either by installing irrigation or drainage facilities in the areas without a system or by improving and modernizing existing systems.

The climatic change could affect agriculture in several ways:

-       productivity, in terms of quantity and quality of crops

-       practices, through changes of water use (irrigation) and agricultural inputs such as herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers

-       environmental effects, in particular in relation of frequency and intensity of soil drainage (leading to nitrogen leaching), soil erosion, reduction of crop diversity

-       adaptation, organisms may become more or less competitive, as well as humans may develop urgency to develop more competitive organisms, such as flood resistant or salt resistant varieties of rice.

This report gives an overview of current and future irrigation and crops production development.


global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, irrigation, food production.


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