UI-Led Regional Climate Change Project Plans Regional Wrap-up Around Field Days
June 09, 2016
The University of Idaho-led Regional Approaches to Climate Change in Pacific Northwest Agriculture (REACCH) will take a victory lap through the region’s agricultural research circuit this summer with a renewed focus on collaboration.
Funded in 2011 with $20 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, REACCH drew together researchers at UI, Oregon State University, Washington State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
The project will mark its sixth and final field season by connecting with a string of field days across the three states that began June 8 with a WSU Weed Tour and concludes Wednesday, July 6, with the UI-Limagrain Parker Farm Field Day.
In between, REACCH-affiliated researchers will present climate research affecting cereal production systems at Pendleton, Oregon, June 14; Moro, Oregon, June 15; Lind, Washington, June 16; Tammany, Idaho, June 21; Fairfield, Washington, June 21; WSU Cook Farm near Pullman, June 22; WSU Wilke Farm near Lind, June 23; Camas Prairie near Nezperce, Idaho, June 28; and Bonners Ferry, Idaho, June 30.
A highlight will be WSU’s Cook Farm Agronomy Field Day near Pullman. The farm is now a Long Term Agricultural Research site funded by USDA, in part because of REACCH’s climate change work there.
This year’s theme at Cook Farm will be, “Building Agricultural Performance for an Uncertain Future.” In addition to climate change-related presentations by REACCH scientists, the field day will include a noon talk by Wayne Honeycutt, Soil Health Institute president and CEO, “The Future of Soil Health”.
The Cook Farm event starts with registration at 7:30 a.m. with field tours from 8 - 11:30 a.m. REACCH-related research focused on agronomy, monitoring, weather variability, farmers’ responses, soil health, water and pests will be addressed. The afternoon will focus on soil health and include a farmer forum to discuss related issues.
Collaborating with the universities on their regularly scheduled field days made sense because of the project’s regional scope, said Dianne Daley Laursen, REACCH project manager.
Tangible evidence of the enhanced collaboration among agricultural researchers in the region is a new publication, “2016 Dryland Field Day Abstracts,” she said. It collects short summaries of disciplinary and interdisciplinary research across the region.
The goal was to give field day visitors a review of research that is relevant to the region’s main agricultural production system, which mostly is tied to cereal production.
Sanford Eigenbrode, REACCH director and an entomologist in UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, listed the project’s main goals as building tools to identify and respond to climate change impacts, projecting effects on yields, pests, weeds and diseases, addressing uncertainties in projected climate impacts, increasing efficiency of inputs, especially nitrogen, increasing carbon storage, developing useable information and improving communication.
For much of the region, projected climate change is not expected on average to constrain wheat production through midcentury. Rather, warming conditions will present unique management challenges and opportunities that researchers and producers can address together.
Genesee-area farmer and REACCH stakeholder Eric Odberg summed up his take on the project’s value after hosting a precision agriculture field day stop last summer.
Before Odberg became involved, he said that a lot of what he did were based on educated guesses, soil tests and hunches. REACCH offered the chance to verify that he was on the right track and to adjust to changes in growing conditions related to climate.
Odberg’s experience with carefully controlling fertilizer applications of anhydrous ammonia, a greenhouse gas, led REACCH to make his farm a stop on a 2015 Precision Agriculture Field Day.
Climate change’s potential impacts on agriculture do concern him, Odberg said, but he is optimistic REACCH will help farmers meet the challenges ahead.
“There’s only so much you can do to prepare for it. But just think about all of the farmers in the 30s in the dust bowl if they had had a project like this going on in the 20s preparing them for what was going to happen,” Odberg said. “And now we just have so much more technology on our side to do that for us. I think that is what the greatest value of this whole grant has been.”
Regional Approaches to Climate Change in Pacific Northwest Agriculture
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu