U2U survey provides insight into farmers across 22 watersheds

August 18, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Useful to Usable climate initiative based at Purdue University has published a survey in the form of a statistical atlas with information on farmers' practices, beliefs about climate and weather and the tools they use to make farm decisions.

Atlas 2, produced in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Corn project, is the second in a two-part series.

The 22 watershed areas surveyed in 2012 cover a substantial portion of 11 Corn Belt states, all of which are major corn and soybean crop areas. The survey was sent to 18,707 farmers with at least $100,000 in gross sales and a minimum of 80 acres of corn production in 22 six-digit Hydrologic Code Unit watersheds.

"Mapped farmer survey responses by watershed is a great way to show variations and similarities of farmers' decision-making, their farming practices and their thoughts on climate and weather across the region," said lead author Sarah Church, a postdoctoral research associate at Purdue.

Using this information and continuing with the format of the series, the new atlas provides additional findings by watershed. Also, each section contains a tabulated presentation of survey data and a series of maps that visually represent the distribution of responses across the study region.

The first atlas in this series presented data on farmer attitudes toward adaptive and mitigative action, farmer beliefs about climate change, farmers' perceptions of risks and experienced hazards, influences of agricultural actors, the capacity of farmers to deal with climate change and weather-related threats, characteristics of the farms surveyed and general information regarding weather and marginal soils in the study watersheds.

The second atlas goes further, with detailed information on timing of farming practices and decisions, how and when farmers use weather in decision-making, the influence of agricultural advisers, personal experiences regarding weather and risks, beliefs and attitudes regarding climate change and plans to adapt and manage climate variability and risk.

"We hope that this data will be useful for educators and advisers who work with the farmers in the Corn Belt states," Church said.

Atlas 2 is available for free download at https://purr.purdue.edu/publications/1965.

Useful to Usable, or U2U as it is called, offers a suite of online tools created to help farmers and agricultural advisers manage increasingly variable weather and climate conditions across the Corn Belt.

Funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U2U is composed of a team of faculty, staff and students from nine universities, including Purdue, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Team members specialize in applied climatology, crop modeling, agronomy, cyber technology, agricultural economics and other social sciences.

More information on U2U is available at www.agclimate4u.org.           

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu 

Sources: Sarah Church, 208-596-8470, church9@purdue.edu

Linda Prokopy, U2U project director, 765-496-2221, lprokopy@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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