Partnership to Develop Central Great Plains Climate Education Partnership - UNL CropWatch, 2012

Partnership to Develop Central Great Plains Climate Education Partnership - UNL CropWatch, 2012

January 19, 2011

Nebraska farmers have long been accustomed to drought, heat waves, hail storms, flash flooding, freezes that come too early, and a wide variety of other calamities that Mother Nature can throw our way. Sometimes all of these disasters come in the same season! Variability and extremes in weather are a normal part of our lives in the Midwest and many of us would have it no other way.


You may not be able to control the climate, but learn how to use climate information to make more informed decisions about your operation.

Producers:  What climate tools do you need?

A new UNL-KSU project funded by the National Science Foundation is asking what climate information you need to make decisions for your farm or ranch operation.  

Take a few moments now to complete a short survey and then attend one of the upcoming meetings to learn more about how to integrate climate information into your decision-making and to share your ideas on information you would like to use. 

However, there is increasing evidence that the climate of our region is changing. For example, the average date of the last spring freeze has become earlier in much of Nebraska over the past few decades. This has allowed farmers to not only plant earlier in the season, but also to plant longer season, higher yielding hybrids. Minimum temperatures (i.e., overnight lows) also have increased in recent decades, likely a result of increased corn production and irrigation. Further increases in minimum temperature may offset some of the potential yield increases from longer season hybrids by increasing respiration and the risk of disease. The number of extreme events across the U.S. in 2011 alone hint that changes may well be afoot.

In addition, ongoing lawsuits with surrounding states over stream flows have forced many of the Natural Resource Districts to implement more stringent pumping limitations. These regulations, along with the growing demand for grain exports and domestic corn-based ethanol, the increasing costs for land and fuel, and other uncertainties in the regulatory environment contribute to the many challenges Nebraska farmers face. Indeed, producers face many more challenges and uncertainties than they did a few generations ago. Adaptation to change and mitigation will be crucial in coming years and there is an up-and-coming project with a goal to help producers face these challenges.

Central Great Plains Climate Education Partnership

The Central Great Plains Climate Education Partnership (CGP-CEP) is a new project involving the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) and various units at the University of Nebraska and Kansas State University. This partnership is part of a network of climate education projects funded through the National Science Foundation’s CCEP program.

The project will provide producers information about climate variability and the potential consequences of climate change. It also will create agro-climate tools to help producers better assess risk and make decisions based on best management practices.

In addition, there are plans to incorporate the current agro-climate tools available through the HPRCC into streamlined, user-friendly applications that would include a robust economic tool for producers to determine how their bottom line may be affected.

As part of this project a series of meetings and workshops will be held across the state so HPRCC climatologists and UNL Extension educators can give detailed analyses on past climate variability and climate change implications and for producers to provide their input on the agro-climate tools they would like to see developed.

Producer feedback will be critical in helping develop and improve these ag climate tools to aid in decision-making. In preparation for future meetings and workshops, CGP-CEP is gathering input now. A survey is available at for you to provide your input. We would greatly appreciate a few minutes of your time for feedback.

Thank you and check back with UNL Crop Watch for information about upcoming workshops and agro-climate information.

Eric Hunt
Graduate Research Assistant, UNL School of Natural Resources