At the recent Purdue Roundtable, 60 guests of the College of Agriculture were treated to a sampling of the type of projects that are underway in the research arm of the College. Jay Akridge, Dean of the College of Agriculture, says it's important to show stakeholders what is going on at Purdue, and to get their input on which directions Purdue should be heading with future research.
One of the projects highlighted during the event was the U2U climate project. In the fourth year of a five-year grant, this project is designed to develop tools that farmers can use to better understand the weather risks of upcoming seasons. One of the tools recently released actually allows you to review the impact of El Nino events going back several years.
Why is this important? Because the three phases of the cycle – El Nino, or warm phase, neutral phase, and La Nina, or cool phase – affect air circulation patterns aloft, and thus impact weather patterns across the U.S., including Indiana. What the tool can do is show you the impact of past events of all three cycles on weather conditions and the growing season.
Not that many years ago people wondered how long it would be, if ever, before ag climatologists and others could develop tools accurate enough to help predict the coming growing season's weather patterns so that you could actually change inputs, say plant more or less seed, depending on what you thought the summer would be like.
This tool doesn't predict what the coming season will be like, but it does allow you to know what other seasons have been like that featured the same type of weather impacting-factor that may be coming this year.
The catch 22, of course, is that this hinges on whether or not it's possible to predict the onset of El Nino events. Currently, an El Nino has been expected for months, but has been slow to develop.
You can check out the new climate tool at agclimate4u.org. The overall project is funded through a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.