11.3 An Integrated Approach to Building Usable Decision Tools for the Agricultural Community

Thursday, 10 January 2013: 2:00 PM
Room 15 (Austin Convention Center)
Melissa Widhalm, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; and L. Prokopy, J. R. Angel, and D. P. Todey

Weather and climate patterns are a driving force behind the success or failure of cropping systems. With U.S. corn and soybean production accounting for nearly one-third of global supplies and contributing $100 billion annually to the national economy, the ability to successfully produce crops under more variable climate conditions is critical.

Useful to Usable (U2U): Transforming Climate Variability and Change Information for Cereal Crop Producers is a USDA-funded research and extension project focused on delivering to producers and farm advisors the resources and training they need to more effectively manage variable climate conditions. The U2U team is a diverse and uniquely qualified group of climatologists, crop modelers, agronomists, economists, and social scientists from 10 Midwestern universities and two NOAA Regional Climate Centers. Together, we strive to help producers make better long-term plans on what, when and where to plant and also how to manage crops for maximum yields and minimum environmental damage.

Under development are tools that will allow the agricultural community to examine the financial, production, and environmental outcomes of different management options and climate scenarios so farmers can choose strategies that fit their capabilities and acceptable levels of risk. Researchers are currently using existing data and agro-climate models to investigate the impact of climate conditions on key topics such as crop yields, fieldwork opportunities, nitrogen management, and the cost-effectiveness of irrigation and tiling. To ensure relevance and usability of U2U products, our social science team is using a number of techniques including surveys and focus groups to integrate stakeholder interests, needs, and concerns into all aspects of U2U research. It is through this coupling of physical and social science disciplines that we strive to transform existing climate information into actionable knowledge. This presentation will elaborate on U2U activities and project findings, including a synopsis of ongoing model development and results from our recent surveys of Corn Belt farmers and advisors.

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