Transforming climate information into usable tools to support Midwestern agricultural production

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 1:45 PM
Room C108 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Melissa Widhalm, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; and J. Andresen, J. R. Angel, O. Kellner, R. Massey, and D. P. Todey

There is a close connection between weather and climate patters and successful agricultural production. Therefore, incorporating climate information into farm management is likely to reduce the risk of economic losses and increase profitability. While weather and climate information is becoming ever more abundant and accessible, the use of such information in the agricultural community remains limited. Useful to Usable (U2U): Transforming Climate Variability and Change Information for Cereal Crop Producers is a USDA-funded research and extension project focused on improving the use of climate information for agricultural production in the Midwestern United States by developing user-driven decision tools and training resources. The U2U team is a diverse and uniquely qualified group of climatologists, crop modelers, agronomists, and social scientists from 9 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 several 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 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 provide a demonstration of several tools currently under development.