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Permalink Regions Suitable for Rainfed Agriculture to Change, Predicts USGS Study

A study from the U.S. Geological Survey predicts that future high temperature extremes and soil moisture conditions may cause some regions to become more suitable for rainfed, or non-irrigated, agriculture, while causing other areas to lose suitable farmland. Increases in the area suitable for rainfed agriculture are projected in North America, western Asia, eastern Asia, and South America. Findings for the temperate regions examined by this study indicate that many areas currently too cold for agriculture, particularly across Asia and North America, will likely become suitable for growing crops. In contrast, suitable areas are projected to decline in European dryland areas. Some areas that are currently heavily cultivated, including regions of the United States such as the southern Great Plains, are likely to become less suitable for agriculture in the future. In particular, areas that frequently experience extreme air temperatures above 93 degrees Fahrenheit will become less suitable for rainfed agriculture, even if sufficient moisture is available.

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