When it comes to climate change resilience in agriculture, the question is generally not why agricultural operations should be prepared, but which preparations will be effective? Through this $1.5 million grant funded by AFRI’s Foundational and Applied Science Program, a national team led by WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources aims to build Extension and USDA Climate Hub professionals’ capacity to answer the “which” within specialty crop systems, and move the bar forward in climate change resilience. Team members represent Washington State University, the University of Florida, the University of Minnesota, and the Ag and Food Systems Institute and are partnering with the Northwest, Midwest, Northeast, California, Southern Plains, and Southeast USDA Climate Hubs.
“Its about finding peers and building connections across regions” said Chad Kruger, the lead investigator and CSANR Director.
Climate analogs are a strategy for agriculture professionals to identify colleagues from other areas who can provide insights for climate resilience and give more actionable steps to support preparedness. Climate analogs pair a target location with an analog location that currently has a climate that is similar to the expected future climate of the target location. This moves abstract future conditions into a more concrete context. Siddharth Chaudhary and Kirti Rajagopalan, from the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Washington State University, in collaboration with the team, recently published a paper on climate analogs in the journal Scientific Reports. The work characterized analogs for all specialty crop counties in the US and brought together extension professionals from a target-analog pair of locations to discuss their region’s agricultural practices. This pilot dialog highlighted the potential utility of analogs in informing cross-regional dialogs for climate change adaptation. Co-PI Rajagopalan notes “It is exciting to initiate a project that builds on this work and provides a pathway to effectively bridge research into extension.”
This project will recruit a cohort of Extension and USDA Climate Hub professionals in the major centers of US fruit and vegetable production, who will participate in the Specialty Crop Climate Change Extension Academy. Through the Academy, professionals will connect across analog specialty crop regions, build expertise in both climate change factors and communication strategies, and be better prepared for facilitating specialty crop producer preparedness for climate change.
“Its about finding peers and building connections across regions”