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What Is A Biome

Biomes are part of the earth’s surface that are divided by climate, soil types, and the kinds of plants and animals that live within them. Minnesota has four major biomes. These biomes greatly affect what can be grown in them.


The glaciers created ridges of rocky, sandy moraines and hundreds of lakes and swamps. This biome has many evergreen trees that like a short summer growing season. Peatlands occur on the flat bottoms of former glacial lakes.


This biome is warmer than the pinelands. It is cooler and moister than the prairies. Much of the land has been cleared for farms and towns. The natural vegetation is mostly broadleaf trees, with some pines. Many lakes formed where blocks of glacial ice melted. You can also see large boulders that were dropped by glaciers.

Tallgrass Aspen

This biome is in northwestern Minnesota. It is made up of a mix of prairie and hardwoods. Although it is the smallest in Minnesota, it also reaches up into three Canadian provinces. Farming is hard here because of its rocky, dry terrain. It is better for cattle farming instead.


The receding glaciers left flat land and rich black topsoil. Most of the land is farmed. Our famous Red River Valley is in this biome. This is Minnesota’s driest biome. Winds blowing across the soil can carry it away.

Think & Discuss:

  1. How are the biomes different from one another?

  2. Which biome do you live in?

  3. How does your biome fit the description above?

  4. Why do you think the Pineland biome’s main crop is forests, not field crops?

  5. What are some of the crops grown in the Prairie biome?

Biomes and Growing Seasons

You learned that biomes have a strong effect on what can be grown where. But biomes are not the only factor. Sometimes there are things that can change where something can be grown, or how.

Climate Change

One factor is climate change. Climate change can cause changes in temperature. It can also change extreme weather patterns, like severe storms, to become even more severe or more frequent. Changes in temperature, amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather could have significant impacts on crop yields. There may be more floods and droughts, both of which can be hard on crops. Drought also can decrease the amount of feed and grains available to raise livestock.

Warmer temperatures, along with longer growing seasons, can make some crops grow faster. However, some crops may not be able to handle higher temperatures. This could mean that some crops could no longer be grown in one area, but may have to be moved farther north. Increased heat can also hurt livestock that may not be able to easily adapt to it.

Science and Technology

Scientists continue to experiment with new farming methods for agriculture. This could mean developing new varieties of fruits and vegetables that can handle different climates than the normal varieties can. It may also mean finding ways to grow things in places that have not been used for farms before. There are even farms being built underground in London, England! Here in Minnesota, researchers at the University of Minnesota have spent decades developing wine grapes. In the past, those had to be grown in warmer climates. But the University has been able to successfully develop grapes that can be used for wine that can be grown in our climate.

Think and Discuss

Why is it important that scientists continue studying agricultural methods?
Why do you think climate change plays a role in changing how our food is grown?

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