Water Use Efficiency in Northeast Vegetable Systems

Farmers of diversified vegetable in the Northeast often decide to turn irrigation water on and off based on how dry the soil feels to the touch. Our group is currently conducting field trials to determine the effects of this approach versus other approaches (i.e. soil moisture sensors and timers) on yield, quality, and nutrient leaching. Trials are ongoing in Vermont, and will begin in Maine in April, 2020. In addition, we are conducting focus groups with farmers throughout the Northeast to explore barriers to adoption of soil moisture sensors.

Collaborators: Rachel Schattman (UMaine), Joshua Faulkner (University of Vermont Extension), and Rebecca Maden (University of Vermont Extension)

Funding: Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE-SARE) award #LNE19-391r


Perceptions of climate change and adaptation among federal agency employees

In partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Climate Hubs and two USDA Agencies (the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency), we investigated perceptions of climate and weather related risks among Agency field staff across the country. We synthesized survey data with crop loss indemnity payments and drought severity metrics to further explore drivers of climate-related risk perception.

Collaborators: Rachel Schattman (UMaine), Gabrielle Roesch-McNally (American Farmland Trust), Sarah Wiener (USDA Southeast Climate Hub), Meredith T. Niles (University of Vermont), Julian Reyes (USDA Southwest Climate Hub), Benoit Parmentier (National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)), John Cobb (USDA Forest Service), Sarah Champion (North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies)

Maps by Scott Merrill

Maps by Scott Merrill

Modeling the effects of climate change on agricultural pests

Changing climate patterns will likely affect insect pressure on many agricultural crops. Environmental changes may result in elevated populations in subsequent years and allow for range expansion into areas with previously inhospitable winters. Corn flea beetle (Chaetocnema pulicaria, Melsheimer) is responsible for not only damage to corn foliage, but it also serves as the primary overwintering vector for Erwinia stewartii bacterium, which causes Stewart’s Wilt. Our work suggests that climate change and associated increasing winter temperatures in the United States will lead to a dramatic increase in the probability of severe damage from corn flea beetle across the U.S., including the Corn Belt.

Collaborators: Rachel Schattman (UMaine) and Scott C. Merrill (University of Vermont)

Image by Holly Greenleaf

Image by Holly Greenleaf

Photovisualization for climate adaptation

Photovisualizations (PVZs) are tools increasingly used to help decision-makers in natural resources fields, especially those that engage public participation in management decisions. These tools have been applied in public processes to assist participants to visualize the impacts associated with climate change. PVZs are accessible and complementary to other forms of communication, and can help laypersons with limited background knowledge engage with technical topics. In this project, our objectives were to determine (1) whether PVZ can aid in decision-making about climate change adaptation, and if so, (2) what characteristics of PVZ are most effective at conveying spatial aspects of adaptation practices.

Project lead: Stephanie Hurley (University of Vermont). Collaborators: Rachel Schattman (UMaine), Holly Greenleaf (UVM), Meredith Niles (UVM) and Martha Caswell (UVM)