Lois Wright Morton, Sociology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA and Lori Abendroth, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
The Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project (CSCAP) is one of only three projects initially funded by the USDA to comprehensively examine strategies that will strengthen the capacity and resiliency of the US agricultural base to changes occurring in the climate. Success for US farmers, industry, and the general public relies on having a profitable and productive cropping system while employing measures that protect the environment for future generations. The CSCAP is a transdisciplinary team comprised of nearly 150 people partnering across 10 Land Grant Universities and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The CSCAP has a research network spanning 9 states and nearly 30 field sites employing current and novel management practices to address the adaptive and mitigative potential of the Midwest’s corn-based cropping systems. Measurements collected during the five-year project include carbon, nitrogen, greenhouse gas, water quality and flow, pest populations, and agronomic indicators. Site data are used for systems analysis and predictive modeling based on existing physical, climate, and economic models. A life cycle analysis also provides a comprehensive view of each system’s strengths and weaknesses. A comprehensive survey of farmers’ behavior, knowledge, and response to climate in their farm operation will pinpoint how recommendations and strategies can be developed for greatest acceptance and incorporation. The environmental, modeling, and social-economic research drives the project’s education and extension efforts as current real-world information is brought into curriculums, modules, presentations, and publications for all ages. Information will be communicated and extended outward to inform, empower and educate citizens, so they are aware of the complexities associated with producing crops in a changing climate.