Impacts and tools for dryland farmers adapting to climate change

By Liz Allen

As climate and agriculture researchers we’re constantly learning from farmers who we interact with. Our conversations with dryland wheat producers in the inland Pacific Northwest have shown us that many farmers are very skilled at managing for multiple risks at once and making decisions under various kinds of uncertainty. Climate models project substantial warming by mid-century (Figure 1) as well as more frequent storm events and more extreme minimum and maximum temperatures in the future. At the same time, a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere may contribute to more rapid crop growth.  As more detailed and sophisticated models of climate change and crop dynamics are developed, it is increasingly clear that managing under observed and projected climate change impacts will require new perspectives for farmers and other agriculture sector decision makers. Those involved in agriculture will need to develop their understanding of climate-related hazards and poise themselves to take advantage of emerging opportunities linked to a changing climate.

Figure 1. Cumulative growing degree days (base 32°F) 1971–2000 (left) and 2040–2069 represen¬tative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 (right), projections obtained from the AgClimate atlas. See the Climate Considerations chapter in Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest for more information on how to interpret projections like this. (Source: Kruger et al. 2017)

An upcoming webinar titled Climate Considerations for Dryland Farmers on Monday November 13 from 8:00 – 9:00 am PST will explore how climate patterns influence dryland agriculture in the inland Pacific Northwest and will provide an overview of how climate data are collected and how models are developed. Webinar developers Liz Allen, Research Associate for Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Katherine Hegewisch, Postdoctoral Researcher in the University of Idaho Geography Department, will explain expected impacts of climate change in the region and show examples of growers implementing production practices that support the long-term viability of farmland under projected climate change. The webinar will conclude with specific guidance about how producers can access online tools and apply information from models to a broad range of agricultural decisions and will include a question and answer session. Join the free webinar here, no pre-registration is required.

Full Webinar Series

Production practices that are designed to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and reduce agriculture’s contribution to global climate change frequently have co-benefits that enhance the overall productivity and resilience of agricultural land—and those approaches are explored in greater depth and detail in the other chapters of the book Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest and the webinars that will follow in this series. Mark your calendars to participate in the full series of upcoming webinars, more information on the webinars can be accessed on the Advances Webinar Series webpage.

Nov. 13, 2017 8:00-9:00 am – Climate Considerations for Dryland Farmers (Liz Allen, WSU, and Katherine Hegewisch, UI)

Nov. 20, 2017 8:00-9:00 am – Pests and Diseases (Sanford Eigenbrode, UI, and Tim Paulitz, USDA-ARS/WSU)

Dec. 4, 2017 8:00-9:00 am – Nutrient Management and Precision Application (Tabitha Brown, WSU/Latah SWCD, and Erin Brooks, UI)

Dec. 11, 2017 8:00-9:00 am – Tillage and Residue Management (Rakesh Awale, OSU, and Prakriti Bista, OSU)

Dec. 18, 2017 8:00-9:00 am – Weed Management (Ian Burke, WSU)

Date to be confirmed – Crop Rotations and Cropping System Diversification (Bill Pan, WSU, and Isaac Madsen, WSU)

This article is also posted on the WSU CSANR Perspectives on Sustainability blog.


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