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Agricultural Advisors: A Receptive Audience for Weather and Climate Information?

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  • 1 * Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
  • | 2 National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • | 3 Illinois State Water Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
  • | 4 Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
  • | 5 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • | 6 ** Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
  • | 7 South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota
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Abstract

As the climate in the midwestern United States becomes increasingly variable because of global climate change, it is critical to provide tools to the agricultural community to ensure adaptability and profitability of agricultural cropping systems. When used by farmers and their advisors, agricultural decision support tools can reduce uncertainty and risks in the planning, operation, and management decisions of the farm enterprise. Agricultural advisors have historically played a key role in providing information and guidance in these decisions. However, little is known about what these advisors know or think about weather and climate information and their willingness to incorporate this type of information into their advice to farmers. In this exploratory study, a diverse set of professionals who advise corn growers, including government, nonprofit, for-profit, and agricultural extension personnel, were surveyed in four states in the midwestern Corn Belt. Results from the survey indicate that advisors are more influenced by current weather conditions and 1–7-day forecasts than longer-term climate outlooks. Advisors predominantly consider historical weather trends and/or forecasts in their advice to farmers on short-term operational decisions versus longer-term tactical and strategic decisions. The main conclusion from this analysis is that opportunities exist to further engage the advisor community on weather and climate issues and, through them, the farmers who are managing the land.

Corresponding author address: Linda Stalker Prokopy, Purdue University, 195 Marsteller Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail: lprokopy@purdue.edu

Abstract

As the climate in the midwestern United States becomes increasingly variable because of global climate change, it is critical to provide tools to the agricultural community to ensure adaptability and profitability of agricultural cropping systems. When used by farmers and their advisors, agricultural decision support tools can reduce uncertainty and risks in the planning, operation, and management decisions of the farm enterprise. Agricultural advisors have historically played a key role in providing information and guidance in these decisions. However, little is known about what these advisors know or think about weather and climate information and their willingness to incorporate this type of information into their advice to farmers. In this exploratory study, a diverse set of professionals who advise corn growers, including government, nonprofit, for-profit, and agricultural extension personnel, were surveyed in four states in the midwestern Corn Belt. Results from the survey indicate that advisors are more influenced by current weather conditions and 1–7-day forecasts than longer-term climate outlooks. Advisors predominantly consider historical weather trends and/or forecasts in their advice to farmers on short-term operational decisions versus longer-term tactical and strategic decisions. The main conclusion from this analysis is that opportunities exist to further engage the advisor community on weather and climate issues and, through them, the farmers who are managing the land.

Corresponding author address: Linda Stalker Prokopy, Purdue University, 195 Marsteller Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail: lprokopy@purdue.edu
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