FARMING STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE
Through a series of workshops and farm tours, webinars, video seminars and written materials, the project partners aim to deepen the understanding of climate change and the role of sustainable agriculture in providing climate benefits (both mitigation and adaptation) among California agricultural professionals, primarily NRCS, Cooperative Extension and Resource Conservation District staff.
In 2013, most of our performance targets were met including hosting two workshops/farm field days for at least 25 NRCS, RCD and Extension staff in two diverse regions of California, and the production of four fact sheets summarizing climate adaptation tools for growers. Planning for the remaining performance targets is underway for the first half of 2014.
Our performance targets for 2013 are summarized as follows:
a) Confer with the project Planning Committee (comprised of leadership staff from NRCS, CARCD and Coop Extension) to guide the development of the products and events.
b) Produce a three-part series of fact sheets summarizing sustainable agriculture tools for agricultural adaptation to climate change, intended for agricultural professionals and producers
c) Provide three full day workshops in geographically diverse regions of California. Our goal was to have 25 to 30 NRCS, Cooperative Extension and Resource Conservation District staff at each workshop. Each workshop includes presentations covering the impacts of climate change on agriculture and solutions to climate-related issues that are relevant to the region, as well as a farm tour modeling some of the practices discussed. The workshops are tailored to the issues and opportunities specific to the region where they take place.
d) Videotapes of the workshop presentations
Remaining performance targets for 2014:
a) Provide three webinars on specific climate and agriculture topics such as renewable energy, organic tools for soil building, on-farm water conservation strategies, etc.
b) Post all materials on websites of CalCAN and partner organizations.
The following milestones were accomplished in 2013:
a) We held three conference calls of the Planning Committee to guide the development of the fact sheets and events.
b) We produce a series of four fact sheets summarizing sustainable agriculture tools for agricultural adaptation to climate change, intended for agricultural professionals and producers. The series was entitled “Farming for Success in the 21st Century.” The topics of the fact sheets are: Soil Building; Increasing Biodiversity; Water Stewardship; Resources for Soil Building, Biodiversity and Water Stewardship. Copies of the series are included as attachments to this report (A, B, C and D).
c) We provided two full day workshops as described here:
Building Soil & Biodiversity for Climate Change Resilience
May 16, 2013 • Preston Vineyards, Healdsburg
Attended by 31 people.
Speakers and topics:
• Alan Flint, US Geological Service — Regional climate change projections and impacts on vineyards
• Rex Dufour, NCAT/ATTRA — Soil biology and carbon sequestration
• Morgan Doran, UC Extension – Vines and ovines
• Renata Brillinger, CalCAN — Overview of climate policy initiatives
• Lou Preston — Biodiversification of a vineyard; Tour of Preston Vineyards
Tools for Enhancing On-Farm Resilience to Climate Change
November 21, 2013 • Wolff Vineyard, San Luis Obispo
Attended by 26 people.
Speakers and topics:
• Royce Larsen, Area Natural Resource Watershed Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension SLO
• Rob Rutherford, former professor & sheep specialist, Animal Science Department, Cal Poly
• Milt McGiffen, Cooperative Extension Vegetable Crops Specialist & Plant Physiologist, UC Riverside
• Mark Battany, Viticulture Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension SLO
• Jean-Pierre Wolff, Owner & Vintner, Wolff Vineyard
The flyers used to promote the two workshops are included here:
Planning for the third workshop, which will be held in March in the Colusa area, is underway.
d) We videotaped the presentations at the first workshop but encountered technical difficulties with lighting and sound that prevented us from producing effective communications tools for on line dissemination. Rather than devote the significant resources that would be required to improve the video quality (resources that are beyond the budget scope of the project), we instead decided to produce an extra fact sheet and devote more resources to the webinars that we expect to be a compelling method for conveying the information to a wider audience beyond workshop participants.
- Attachment A – Biodiversity fact sheet
- Attachment B – Soil Building fact sheet
- Attachment C – Water Stewardship fact sheet
- Attachment D – Resources fact sheet
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The professional development tools provided by this project will have the expected outcome of bridging between theory and practice by convening researchers, agriculturalprofessionals and growers to learn about and share farming practices that have climate adaptation and mitigation benefits.
Participation in the two workshops we conducted in 2013 met or exceeded our expectations, and the discussions during the workshops and evaluations after indicate that the topic of agricultural tools for coping with climate change is valuable and practically useful for their work with growers.
Results of the workshop evaluations are summarized as follows:
• Most participants indicated that their understanding of the tools growers could use to increase their resilience to climate change prior to the workshop was moderate, with only one-third in Healdsburg and less than 10% in SLO indicating a strong understanding.
• When asked if the workshop was useful in improving their understanding of the approaches that growers can use to increase their reslience to climate change, 59% in Healdsburg and 69% in SLO indicated it was very useful and the remainder indicated it was moderately useful.
• All speakers were ranked either excellent or good, with the majority of the participants ranking all speakers excellent.
Some examples of participant comments about the greatest value of the workshop are quoted here:
• It was great to see the practices in action (like the hedgerows) and to hear a real grower talk about their challenges and solutions.
• Seeing a living example of someone using the recommended tools, particularly diversification, and making part of the financially viable business.
• Networking with other professionals and sharing stories, resources, etc.
• Talking with other participants at the workshop who work with farmers and ranchers in their area. We discussed the different issues with land use and water availability and projects we are working on.
• Participants interaction, questions and answers.
• Acknowledgement of a very complex system that will not be understood with simple approaches.
• Providing specific actions that growers can implement now.
• There was good variety among the presentations and panel.
Some examples of participant comments about recommended improvements are quoted here:
• Have more growers and managers present.
• More discussion on a variety of resource concerns and crops.
• More recommendations and BMPs would be helpful.
• Discussion on how to approach growers about climate change issues. This was addressed a little, but brainstorming or developing methods to actually talk to growers about these issues and encourage on-farm adoption of these sustainable tools would be really interesting.
• Our discussions got me thinking a lot about how to talk with growers about climate change, without actually talking about climate change. In other words, how to focus on related and perhaps more immediately relevant issues (like water supply). A communications workshop along these lines would be great!
• It would have been great for the group to share stories, challenges, successes, etc. related to helping growers adapt to climate change. Adding a round table session to a group this size and composed thusly would have been extremely useful.
Natural Resources Conservation Service
430 G St.
Davis, CA 95616-4155
Office Phone: 5307925649
California Association of RCDs
801 K Street Suite 1415
Sacramento, CA 95814
Office Phone: 9164577904
Climate Change Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
3800 CORNUCOPIA WAY STE E
Modesto, CA 95358-9535
Office Phone: 2094919320