About Melissa Widhalm

Melissa Widhalm is the project manager for the U2U project, a multi-institution research and Extension project focused on improving climate information for Corn Belt agriculture.

New atlas shows perspectives on ag practices, decisions, weather info

Capture2Teams from the Useful to Usable (U2U) and Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems CAP (CSCAP) projects have released the second atlas in a series presenting data from a survey of Corn Belt farmers that was conducted in early 2012.

Farmer Perspectives on Agricultural Practices, Information, and Weather Variability in the Corn Belt: A Statistical Atlas, Volume 2 looks at farmers’ specific behaviors, beliefs about climate and weather, and the tools they utilize to make farm decisions. Specific information covered includes the timing of farming practices and farming decisions, whether and how farmers use weather information when making farming decisions, a detailed look at the influence of agricultural advisors in farmer decision making processes, farmers’ personal experiences regarding weather and risks, additional information on farmers’ attitudes and beliefs regarding climate change, and plans and efforts of farmers to adapt to and manage for weather and climate variability and risk.

Similar to the first atlas this latest publication provides survey results by watershed, and each section contains a tabulated presentation of survey data along with a series of maps that visually represent the distribution of responses across the entire study region.

This publication is available at https://purr.purdue.edu/publications/1965.


Church, Sarah P., Tonya Haigh, Melissa Widhalm, Linda Stalker Prokopy, J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., Jon Hobbs, Tricia Knoot, Cody Knutson, Adam Loy, Amber Saylor Mase, Jean McGuire, Lois Wright Morton, John Tyndall, 2015. Farmer Perspectives on Agricultural Practices, Information, and Weather Variability in the Corn Belt: A Statistical Atlas, Volume 2. CSCAP-0184-2015. West Lafayette, IN. Purdue University Research Repository. doi:10.4231/R79W0CFS

Envisioning New Roles for land-grant university Extension: Lessons learned from climate change outreach in the Midwest

Authors: Linda Prokopy and Rebecca Power

We have been working together for over four years on a USDA-NIFA funded project called Useful to Usable (U2U) that is developing climate information for corn producers in the North Central Region (http://www.agclimate4u.org). As part of this project, we have conducted surveys with farmers, Extension personnel and agricultural advisors. We have broadly defined agricultural advisors for the purpose of this study and surveyed state agency staff (Departments of Agriculture, Departments of Environment), Federal agency staff (NRCS and FFA), county agency staff (Soil and Water Conservation Districts), agricultural bankers, Certified Crop Advisors, input dealers among others. Surveyed farmers managed over 80 acres of corn and grossed $100,000 in 2011; operators of small farms are not included in this analysis. Extension educators surveyed were in agriculture and natural resources program areas.

These surveys revealed several interesting findings that suggest new directions for Extension in our region.

  1. Land-grant university Extension educators do not believe in anthropogenic climate change at the same level as university scientists (Prokopy et al. 2015b; see Table 1). This reveals a troubling disconnect between climate science and Extension, which has a critical role in disseminating the best science to the public and effectively conveying the needs of the public to university researchers. Continue reading

Is there an advantage to early soybean planting?

Selecting an early versus late planting date could have implications for water availability and plant stress throughout the growing season. U2U team members Tapan Pathak and Roger Elmore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln looked at the potential advantage of early soybean planting from a climatology perspective. Read all about their findings in Nebraska Crop Watch.