Global Change and Climate Programs

One of the most pressing issues facing plant and animal producers today is the ever-changing conditions and impacts of climate variability. Another critical issue is the need for scientific information that producers can use to plan and make decisions to ensure economic viability while facing these challenges. NIFA-supported global change and climate projects are addressing these issues through research, extension, and education activities.

General Information

Historical plant and animal production levels indicate we are already experiencing impacts from climate or environmental change. Producers must determine how to use global change and climate/weather-related information to remain profitable and conserve resources. Related decisions involve species type; cultivar or breed; planting or breeding time; tillage, feeds and fertilization; pesticide or vitamin application; irrigation; harvests; storage; and marketing. All these factors must adapt in one form or another or be chosen with respect to changes in the environment brought about by global change and variable climate patterns. Scientific information on global change and climate and their impacts on soils, water, and air; plant and animal biology; and the general environment will produce robust simulation models to provide guidance on the relative benefits and outcomes associated with agronomic decisions.

Current NIFA-funded projects focus on determining the interactions/effects among global change and climate with agricultural and forestry productions systems. With this knowledge one can better identify agricultural and forestry activities that can maintain production and profitability while improving the condition of our soil, water and air resources. For example, research can help identify, describe, and quantify processes involved in the cycling of organic and inorganic carbon in soil whereby one can increase soil health by increasing soil carbon; which in turn improves water and nutrient holding capacity. Global change extension programs focus on technologies and practices to that center on risk management practices to anticipate natural and human impacts on agricultural ecosystem dynamics.  These practices can improve resilience and reduce carbon in the atmosphere. Education and extension activities provide robust scientific information for learning and decision support systems for citizens and public officials to evaluate the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of policy options for sustainable resource management.

For example, NIFA supports research to determine the influence of irrigation practices and water management on productivity and carbon storage in land-based systems. Irrigation schedules and best practices are then communicated to stakeholders for implementation. Contributions from NIFA research programs include new tools to effectively sustain productivity in a changing environment, and to accurately measure and estimate carbon in ecosystems at different scales.

For a holistic approach to global change and climate issues, activities should be integrated, involving research, education and extension. This brings together the natural sciences, engineering, mathematics, business, social and political sciences, economics, and education to achieve a system science view of agricultural and forestry production and sustainability. This approach seeks to provide reliable information for regional and national decision makers.

In addition to non-capacity grants, NIFA provides support for research and extension activities at land-grant institutions through grants to the states on the basis of statutory formulas. Eligibility is limited to the cooperating institutions, most of which are 1862, 1890, and 1994 land-grant institutions.

Program Type: 
Grant Program
Contact: 
Randi Johnson

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