Adapting to a changing climate is imperative for agriculture, yet agricultural service providers (ASPs) may feel ill-equipped to make recommendations about new practices and technologies that could help farmers adapt. Current and projected changes in weather present new opportunities and risks for agriculture in Maine, such as a longer growing seasons but increased risks of spring frosts, summer droughts, wetter/cooler springs, and more frequent and intense rainfall. In many cases, the climate adaptation practices identified by farmers and advisors (e.g. irrigation and weather-based decision support tools) require new knowledge and skills, not just for the farmer but also for their ASPs.
This one-year project, conducted by state SARE coordinators at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, will complete a comprehensive needs assessment to identify ASPs’ knowledge gaps and training needs as related to helping farmers adapt to climate change. The needs assessment will include two components: a region-wide online survey and two Maine farm tour/focus groups. The survey will ascertain ASPs’ perceived need for farmer outreach and their level of confidence in making specific and detailed recommendations related to climate adaptation practices. Results from the needs assessment survey will be widely shared and will inform future state-based programming.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant: