By Gabrielle Roesch-McNally
USDA SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education) recently published a new resource for land managers and those who advise them titled, “Cultivating Climate Resilience on Farms and Ranches.” This resource outlines some of the challenges that farmers and ranchers will face as climate change leads to more extreme and variable weather. While the resource is national in scope, there is a great table that briefly explores the observed and expected changes in weather across seven U.S. regions, including the Northwest (Table 1).
This publication is broadly focused on what farmers and ranchers can do to make their operations more resilient to expected climatic changes. The first section focused on understanding climate risk, with emphasis on how sensitive crops, livestock, weeds, insects, disease, and soil and water resources are likely to be to changing climates. The second section emphasizes understanding on-farm resilience, with ample examples of farmers and ranchers who have taken action to enhance the resilience of their farms. One such example is about using cover crop cocktails to improve soil health, and improve your financial bottom-line. The third section builds on the understanding of resilience by discussing specific management strategies that can assist farmers and ranchers in cultivating climate resilience in their operation. The guide finishes with a short section intended to help land managers get started in their on-farm resilience planning efforts, followed by a helpful resources section.
I encourage farmers, ranchers and those who work with them to take a look at this publication as a useful resource for improving natural resource management in response to climate impacts, which are projected to exacerbate management challenges on farms and ranches here the Northwest.
You can order free copies online from SARE to share at events or outreach activities you are involved in.