Extension and outreach supporting climate-resilient sustainale agriculture in Montana.

Final report for MW16-004

Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2016: $24,998.00
Projected End Date: 04/01/2017
Grant Recipient: Montana State University
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Fabian Menalled
Dept. of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

Agricultural sustainability depends as much on the natural resources required for production as it does on stakeholders’ knowledge and decisions. While progress has been made in identifying sustainable practices and understanding the decision-making process of agricultural stakeholders, new challenges require rethinking sustainable agriculture outreach activities. Specifically, in the face of unprecedented climate change, we need to understand the variables that influence the decision-making process of agricultural stakeholders to design extension programs geared towards enhancing the long-term sustainability of their initiatives.

This proposal brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts in the areas of agro-ecology, food science, sociology, and education to develop, implement, and deliver educational material to address the effects of climate change on water-limited agricultural systems. The overall goal of this project is to understand the knowledge, needs, constraints, and perceptions of Montana agricultural producers and educators (hereafter stakeholders) related to climate change and agricultural mitigation practices. Through surveys we will fulfill or objectives of 1) identify audience perceptions, experiences, and priorities related to climate change 2) assess audience awareness of sustainable agricultural strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change. We will utilize the information obtained to 3) develop and deliver extension-based activities to advance audience environmental literacy on the effects of climate change on agricultural systems, mitigation practices, and resilience strategies to handle them. Extension activities will enhance audience’s 1) awareness about the impacts of climate change on production systems and 2) ability to implement climate- resilient strategies.

Project Objectives:
  1. I) Identify stakeholders’ perceptions, experiences, and priorities related to climate change.
  • Assess stakeholders’ awareness of sustainable agricultural strategies to mitigate the impact of climate
  • Develop and deliver extension-based activities to advance stakeholders literacy on the effects of climate change on agricultural systems, mitigation practices, and resilience
  • Evaluate participants’ engagement, understanding, and awareness of climate change effects and mitigation on agricultural Evaluation methods include: observations of the workshops and data analysis of satisfaction surveys administered pre and post-intervention. Surveys will include Likert-type and open-ended questions. Findings of the evaluation  will guide the revision of the extension activities.

 

The first two objectives will allow us to compare multiple stakeholders’ (extension agents, farmers, and ranchers) knowledge, perceptions, values, practices, challenges, opportunities, and needs related to climate change and assess how these variations influence sustainable agricultural practices. This characterization is important for designing solutions such for sustainable agricultural practice and educational programs. The information generated in this project will, in turn, be used to develop effective curricula on principles and strategies regarding agricultural sustainability in the face of a change climate. Specific activities will include workshops, roundtable discussions, seminars, and technical bulletins. By taking into account the diversity of multiple stakeholders and their prior knowledge and perceptions, we hope to increase the usefulness of the information conveyed in Objective 3. Finally, we will formally evaluate the effeteness ofour educational activities and the findings will guide their revision.

Proposed timetable

Obj. 1 will be conducted in during the first ten months of this project. Activities will include: 1) prepare and distribute the survey, and 2) conduct univariate and multivariate analysis to evaluate stakeholders’  perceptions, experiences, and priorities  related to climate change.

Obj. 2 will also be conducted in during the first ten months of this project. Activities will include: 1) prepare and distribute the survey, and 2) conduct univariate and multivariate analysis to assess stakeholders’ awareness of sustainable agricultural strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Obj. 3. The extension-based activates of this proposal will be conducted after we finish the data analysis (month 10). Because we regularly coordinate and participate in extension  programs across Montana  and the region, we forecast that we will continue these activities  beyond the length of this proposal

Obj. 4. The evaluation of outcomes will be conducted during the last  two months of this project

Education

Educational approach:

This project allowed us to better understand Montana’s agricultural stakeholders’ knowledge, attitudes, and concerns regarding climate change and climate change impacts. Our results indicated that while concerns regarding the severity and impact of climate change are shared across all sectors, acknowledging the impact that anthropogenic activities have on global climate varies across political views.  This study further allowed us to identify knowledge gaps and concerns as well as socio-economical groups that share similar concerns regarding climate impact on Montana agriculture.  The results allowed us to develop a technical bulletin on climate science for Montana agriculture and deliver 10 extension presentation and one webinar.  Overall, we directly impacted 617 Montana’s citizens

Results are presented in the Education & Outreach section: Develop and deliver a Power Point presentation describing the implications of climate change for Montana agriculture

 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Production of the Technical Bulletin: Climate Science 101 for Montan
Objective:

Produce, publish and distribute an introductory bulleting on climate science tailored to the needs of Montana’s agricultural stakeholders

Description:

A four-page introductory bulleting on climate principles including weather and climate definition, climate forecasting, greenhouse effects, and climate change.

mt201614AG3

Outcomes and impacts:

This technical bulleting was used as part of the extension activities (field days, growers’ meetings, and extension talks associated with this proposal)

 

Extension presentation on climate change and impacts in Montana
Objective:

Develop and deliver a Power Point presentation describing the implications of climate change for Montana agriculture

Description:

Power-point-WSARE-report.  This 44 slide presentation 1) summarizes climate trends and projections from Montana (slides 1-11), 2) describes a field study assessing potential implications of climate change for Montana agriculture (slides 12 – 29), and 3) discuss knowledge, perceptions, and concerns of Montana’s citizens on climate change (slides 30-44). NOTE: the results of this WSARE proposal are presented and discussed in slides 30-44.

Outcomes and impacts:

This presentation was offered at 10 growers and general public meetings across Montana for a total of 662 participants.

Webinar: “Talking About Climate Change in Rural Montana”
Objective:

Produce and deliver a webinar in the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals Climate Science Initiative

Description:

In this webinar, we discussed how we are addressing the issue of communicating climate change and bridging the gap between citizens and scientists. As an example, we organized the dialogue based on Montana climate data and the question “Is cheatgrass becoming more difficult to manage.”

 

Field day and demonstration plots on the impact of climate conditions (ambient vs. increased temperature and reduced moisture
Objective:

Visit field studies assessing the impact of climate conditions (increased temperature and reduced moisture) on wheat yield

Description:

We conducted two field tours to visit experimental plots where we are evaluating the impact of climate conditions (increased temperature and reduced moisture) on crop growth and yield.

Outcomes and impacts:

A total of 125 farmers and agricultural professionals visited the plots and discussed the impact of climate change on crop yield and assessed mitigations practices.

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 On-farm demonstrations
1 Published press articles, newsletters
11 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

550 Farmers
67 Ag professionals participated

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.