UNL tries to help farmers plan for climate change

Farm Forum

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) – Experts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are trying to help farmers prepare for the possibility of prolonged dry weather and more severe storms without focusing on the climate change that might be causing them.

The Hastings Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1LGz9xv ) the experts offered farmers several strategies for dealing with climate extremes at last week’s Husker Harvest Days in rural Hall County.

“We try hard to keep politics out of it,” said UNL Extension educator Tyler Williams, but that can be hard to do at times.

University officials see their role as helping farmers and ranchers figure out how to deal with the changing climate.

“We’re hoping people can come to us for that quality information without having to decipher it for themselves,” Williams said. “It’s very challenging.”

The event highlighted ways to plan irrigation systems so they will be resilient, and forage alternatives in beef systems. There was also education on the benefits of using cover crops to protect and enhance soil.

Cover crops are planted between growing seasons to limit erosion and replenish nutrients in the soil, which can reduce the need for fertilizer.

And farmers might be able to plant a cover crop after harvesting their wheat or corn to create feed for calves to graze on, said Mary Drewnoski, a beef specialist for UNL Extension. It is an economical way for calves to gain weight before they go to the feedlot, Drewnoski said.

The university plans to focus on the challenges of climate change at next year’s event as well, said Ronnie Green, who leads UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“This is such an important topic on so many levels that we will examine it from many angles,” Green said.