Understanding the Climate to Help Mitigate Risk on the Farm

Whether it’s El Niño, La Niña, drought, or flood, the climate/weather has a lot to do with how things turn out on the farm. While there are many sources to get current local weather data and future forecast, there hasn’t been too many sources available to farmers who want information regarding the climate and it’s affects on farming. Now there is a new source available at GaClimate.org. This is a new website “dedicated to providing timely weather and climate information to Georgia’s agricultural producers and county agents.” The GaClimate.org site has lots of useful information to help producers understand what the expected conditions will be like for the crop year as well as predictions about the future of the Georgia climate. Some of the resources are very basic, like the linked AgroClimate article explaining the difference between the climate and weather. Other articles are a little more technical but still easy to read, such as understanding soil temperatures for crabgrass control and the effects temperature has on wheat production worldwide.

Most farmers traditionally haven’t looked or thought about studying or understanding the climate because the current or immediate weather forecast are what matters to us this crop year. Every farmer has some method to check the weather for the next 7 days to help in planting/spraying/harvesting decisions (GaClimate has these tools also). But understanding how the climate operates and what the future holds can really help mitigate some risk in the future. For example, if all the climate models are predicting multi-year droughts in the future, then investing in more irrigation may be a very good idea. If you farm in some bottom land that doesn’t drain very well and there are climate predictions of more frequent large/heavy rainfall events, then you may not want to waste money on irrigation units for those fields that you will not need. Whatever the case may be, there is definitely some value in understanding the climate and its affects on agriculture to help farmers mitigate risk in the future.

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