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Warming Conditions to Lead to Need for Irrigation in Midwest

A warming atmosphere combined with larger corn plants means that Midwestern corn growers will need to irrigate by mid-century, according to a study by University of Illinois scientists. Farmers who rely on rainfall to water corn crops today won’t have that option as warmer temperatures draw more moisture out of plants, and as plant size increases through efforts to continue improving crop yields. The study leader notes, however, that farmers can use strategies such as minimum tillage and mulches to reduce the rate of water loss from the soil, as well as seeking to supply more water through irrigation. The study was reported in the journal Ecosphere.