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Thanks for the Memories

CaptureSorry for my long absence with my blog posts. And now I am writing to tell you the USDA NIFA project “Animal Agriculture in  Changing Climate” has ended. This project sponsored my blog – among many other great activities.

In the end we have had participation in this project from people in 76 different countries. We had 509 people register for our online course with 132 complete the course. We had countless others read or view the materials we published or attend our workshops and conferences held over the past six years.

If you missed participating, all of our project materials will be available until 2018 on this project website or on this Extension site.

The end of the project does not mean the end to climate change or the challenges it brings to animal agriculture. Keep on learning and doing what needs to be done! Remember to always consider climate when you are making those farming decisions!

Always Considering Climate — David

David Schmidt MS. PE is a researcher and educator in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota and regional project coordinator for the project Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate,  a national project of the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center and funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agricultur

The earth hasn’t warmed since 1998

updated-global-temperatureLikely true, but what does this mean?

This first graph shows temperature over time with a general lack of increase in warming since 1998.

This past week I had the rare opportunity to meet someone who “wrote the book.” This has never happened to me before. Unfortunately, I did not know he “wrote the book” until after our chance encounter. Continue reading

Wettest Year Ever . . .

.. . .  at least it is here in Minnesota. According to the latest rainfall totals and reported on a blog by one of our local climatologist, 06wx061914 star tribune flooded corn fieldwe are sitting at 4 inches above the wettest ever conditions for this time of the year (June 20) and only 5 inches below the average precipitation for the entire year. Crazy amounts of rain we are having across Minnesota.

I was on a farm visit this past week that just happened to be in an area hardest hit by the storms. The particular farm had about 2000 acres of corn damaged and were getting ready to replant about 1000 acres of the hardest hit. For the sake of this project I asked the farmer his thoughts on climate change and his response was that he had seen periods of dry and wet and that this was likely just another period of wet. He had no opinion on climate change (except that the one thing certain in life was change) but was making decisions every day on what weather came his way. Manure hauling, raising feed for his livestock, livestock handling, crop pests and diseases, are all impacted by weather and all critical to the farm’s economics. Intentionally the farm was well diversified with 3000 head of beef – some inside, some outside, 16 hog finishing barns, significant crop acres for growing feed but also significant amounts of purchased feed, multiple sources of cattle to fill their lots and barns, etc.. This farm has been in the family for a few generations and I expect it to survive long into the future. It is a case study in “Resilient Agriculture.”

Speaking of “Resilient Agriculture” (a new buzzword) . . . here is a promo for a workshop coming up this fall that is sponsored by a nationally funded project similar to ours but with a focus on corn rather than animals.

“US agriculture produces almost $330 billion annually in agricultural commodities and is directly and indirectly affected by extreme weather events and variable climate conditions which impact crop and livestock productivity, pest and pathogen pressures, and soil and water resources,” says Lois Wright Morton, director of the USDA Sustainable Corn Project, which is organizing the conference. “A major goal of our project is to share with farmers what we are learning about a set of practices that have potential to better manage the uncertainty associated with climate variability.”

For more information check out Resilient Agriculture: Adapting to a Changing Climate. August 5-7, Ames Iowa.

Have a great week – David