Agriculture in Minnesota generates more than $112 billion in total economic impact and supports more than 431,000 jobs. Minnesota’s agricultural production is intimately tied to weather and climate and is on the frontlines of both short-term variability and long-term changes in temperature, precipitation, and a range of conditions associated with those physical climatic changes, such as increased pest and disease pressure, changes in growing season length, altered crop suitability, and water resource pressures. We are already seeing evidence of projected changes for a warmer and wetter climate in Minnesota with more extreme precipitation events. Understanding and improving preparedness for these future conditions will be important for sustaining Minnesota’s thriving agricultural economy and communities.
With support from the State of Minnesota to Model Minnesota's Future Climate and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) is developing and delivering research-based Extension programming and content to help Minnesota’s agricultural sector respond to a changing climate and build resilient farming operations and a thriving agricultural economy. Overarching goals of this programming and content include:
- Deepening understanding of future climate and extreme weather across Minnesota;
- Co-creating strategies and recommendations for decisions like seed selection, cover crops, tillage, and other practices to manage weather and climate risks;
- Providing easy access to place-specific resources, technical support and training for understanding and engaging in climate-smart risk management and decision-making;
- Providing guidance on replacement of aging agricultural infrastructure (such as manure storage and tile systems) to suit future weather and climate conditions;
- Informing investments in production stewardship practices that sustain profitability, improve air quality, and strengthen resilience for weather and climate extremes.
With project support, our Extension team has engaged farmers and other agricultural stakeholders to better understand their climate concerns and adaptive management needs. These include concerns about the impacts of changing patterns of precipitation and available soil moisture on agricultural management, as well as the impacts of changing extremes for replacing aging agricultural infrastructure. Our team has also identified an openness to investing in farming practices and new markets that maintain profitable production and improve air quality by sequestering carbon and reducing emissions that contribute to climate change. Key to production stewardship will be making decisions that both sustain profitability and strengthen agricultural resilience while remaining nimble, prepared and responsive to changing climate extremes – at home and beyond.
Our Extension team is currently building on these initial efforts with a focus on developing a Minnesota Climate Smart Agriculture Scenario Planning Program to effectively identify and communicate about observed and potential climate-related risks, effective agricultural management practices, and climate adaptation strategies to assist the agricultural sector in confronting a range of anticipated weather and climate extremes in Minnesota.