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Michael Hayes, Mark Svoboda, Nicole Wall, and Melissa Widhalm

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Tonya Haigh, Vikram Koundinya, Chad Hart, Jenna Klink, Maria Lemos, Amber Saylor Mase, Linda Prokopy, Ajay Singh, Dennis Todey, and Melissa Widhalm

Abstract

The pathways between climate information producers and agricultural decision-makers are evolving and becoming more complex, with information increasingly flowing through both public and for-profit intermediaries and organizations. This study characterizes the various channels of climate information flow, as well as the needs and preferences of information intermediaries and end users. We use data from a 2016 survey of farmers and agricultural advisors in 12 U.S. Corn Belt states to evaluate perceptions of climate information and its usability. Our findings reinforce the view that much weather and climate information is not reaching farmers explicitly but also suggest that farmers may not be aware of the extent to which the information is packaged with seed, input, or management recommendations. For farmers who are using weather and climate information, private services such as subscription and free tools and applications (apps) are as influential as publicly provided services. On the other hand, we find that agricultural advisors are engaged users and transformers of both public and private sources of weather/climate information and that they choose sources of information based on qualities of salience and credibility. Our results suggest that climate information providers could improve the use of information in agriculture by engaging advisors and farmers as key stakeholders and by strategically employing multiple delivery pathways through the private and public sectors.

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Linda Stalker Prokopy, Tonya Haigh, Amber Saylor Mase, Jim Angel, Chad Hart, Cody Knutson, Maria Carmen Lemos, Yun-Jia Lo, Jean McGuire, Lois Wright Morton, Jennifer Perron, Dennis Todey, and Melissa Widhalm

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.

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Eugene S. Takle, Christopher J. Anderson, Jeffrey Andresen, James Angel, Roger W. Elmore, Benjamin M. Gramig, Patrick Guinan, Steven Hilberg, Doug Kluck, Raymond Massey, Dev Niyogi, Jeanne M. Schneider, Martha D. Shulski, Dennis Todey, and Melissa Widhalm

Abstract

Corn is the most widely grown crop in the Americas, with annual production in the United States of approximately 332 million metric tons. Improved climate forecasts, together with climate-related decision tools for corn producers based on these improved forecasts, could substantially reduce uncertainty and increase profitability for corn producers. The purpose of this paper is to acquaint climate information developers, climate information users, and climate researchers with an overview of weather conditions throughout the year that affect corn production as well as forecast content and timing needed by producers. The authors provide a graphic depicting the climate-informed decision cycle, which they call the climate forecast–decision cycle calendar for corn.

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