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Climate Adaptation

How to Keep Crops Alive In a Warmer, Drier World

There are a growing number of startups with inventions aimed at adapting food to drought. But will it be enough to make a difference?

Opti-Harvest’s colored polymer tubes, panels and cones are placed on, above or around trees or other crops to increase photosynthesis, according to the company.

Opti-Harvest’s colored polymer tubes, panels and cones are placed on, above or around trees or other crops to increase photosynthesis, according to the company.

Source: Opti-Harvest

Every week, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture update America’s Drought Monitor, a map illustrating the parts of the country that are currently experiencing water scarcity, and to what extent.

In the West and High Plains, which comprise 15 states with some of the most productive land in the nation, the news over the past 20 years has not been good. Drought conditions have prevailed in more than 15% of the West for 1,138 of the last 1,144 weeks. California has spent eight of the last 10 years with more than half of its land under stress. As of Feb. 8, 95% of the West was considered “abnormally dry.”