Conference report outlines status, challenges, opportunities for Southern Plains ag, forestry

The report of the Resilient Southern Plains Agriculture and Forestry in a Varying and Changing Climate conference, held in July 2017 in El Reno, Oklahoma, is now available online.

The conference was jointly orga­nized by Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, and the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub and hosted by Redlands Community College. It served as a platform for assessing the current understanding of how climate variations and changes affect Southern Plains agriculture and for prioritizing research, extension and education needs consistent with that understanding. Approximately 80 attendees representing federal, academic, extension, producer and commodity perspectives participated in the 1.5-day event.

The report, assembled by the conference organizers, is intended to serve multiple purposes:

  • Provide an overview of agriculture in the Southern Plains and the overarching factors impacting produc­tion systems.
  • Summarize the current state of knowledge regarding climate-driven risks on regional agriculture.
  • Identify high priority science questions, research needs and extension programming necessary to mitigate climate risks in Southern Plains production systems.
  • Highlight existing regional capacity and resources available to address those risks.
  • Present opportunities for federal agencies, land-grant universities, the private sector and others to address critical, science-based issues regarding climate and agriculture in the Southern Plains.

The report also serves as the first step in outlining a 10-year research and extension roadmap for climate and agriculture in the Southern Plains. The roadmap will consider key drivers of production risks in the region, the potential for technological advances and new manage­ment strategies, changes in policy and education, and the potential for greater development of integrated systems approaches to production agriculture.

For more information on the conference, read this Conservation Matters article written by Dr. Ron Lacewell, Texas A&M AgriLife assistant vice chancellor of federal relations.

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