Publication Date June 10, 2019

When climate change hits home: Local growers use agriculture to mitigate its effects

United States
Rick Dalen (left) with Northern Harvest Farm and Adam Kemp with Uff-da Organics and Northern Harvest Farm talk about sustainable farming practices in a greenhouse at Northern Harvest Farm near Wrenshall. Photo: Clint Austin

Over the years on his family's organic farm in Wrenshall, some of the most fertile soil in the region, Janaki Fisher-Merritt has noticed an uptick in large rain events as well as unfavorable weather patterns that seem to get stuck.

"It's a different dynamic," Fisher-Merritt said. "Things don't behave the way they used to."

Farmers in the region are witnessing the ways in which a changing climate affects their growing seasons, and ultimately, makes growing food all the more unpredictable. Many of these same growers practice regenerative agriculture, which can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

The climate-related changes Fisher-Merritt has observed as a farmer mirror those shared by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

In Minnesota, heavy rains are more extreme and more common than they have ever been, according to the DNR. This is a trend scientists have linked to climate change because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, leading to greater amounts of rainfall and snowfall.

The DNR has also reported that most temperature warming in Minnesota has been observed in the winter, which has warmed 13 times faster than Minnesota summers since 1970.

On Fisher-Merritt's farm, this means more insect pests survive the winters.