Farmers in Wayanad, a major coffee and spice producing region in the State, are worried about the impact of the unusual rise in temperature during the day and a significant drop at night on crops.
“The district has experienced an unusual rise in temperature during the day and a significant drop at night, leading to a shift in local climate,” said CK Vishnudas, Director of the Hume Center for Ecology and Wildlife Biology.
The average temperature in Wayanad has increased by around 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past decade, which is significantly higher than the global average, he added.
The Hume Center has constituted a network of progressive farmers from the district and distributed thermometers to them to collect daily temperature data.
Data collected between February 26 and March 14 this year showed an average maximum temperature of 34.88 degrees Celsius at Chembra estate near Meppadi and an average minimum temperature of 17 degrees Celsius at Thavinjal estate near Mananthavady.
A considerable increase in soil temperature was also experienced this year. The highest soil temperature at Kalpetta was recorded at 2.30 pm on March 3. In the open space, the soil temperature was recorded as 48 degrees Celsius, while it was 31 degrees Celsius in shaded areas.
Local farmers and plantation owners are concerned about the impact of the sudden change in temperature on crops.
The rising soil temperature has a significant impact on agriculture and ecosystem, the farming community fears. This increase in temperature is causing a range of issues, including reduced crop yields, changes in the distribution of plant and animal species, and increased soil erosion.
The rise in soil temperature would adversely affect the rich organic matter on the top layer of the soil, said P. Shajeesh Jan, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Meteorology, Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Ambalavayal.
Apart from climate change, the massive felling of trees in the district is also cited as a reason for the present crisis, said K. Ajith Kumar, Associate Director, RARS. The high solar radiation along with high UV rays during summer leads to yellowing and chlorosis of leaves, which affect photosynthesis and yield, Dr. Ajith Kumar added.