Transforming Climate Variability and
Change Information for Cereal Crop Producers
Useful to Usable (U2U): Transforming Climate Variability and Change Information for Cereal Crop Producers, was a USDA-funded research and extension project designed to improve the resilience and profitability of U.S. farms in the Corn Belt amid a changing climate. Over a six-year period from April 2011 - April 2017, 122 faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students from ten Midwestern universities contributed to this interdisciplinary project. Our team integrated expertise in applied climatology, crop modeling, agronomy, cyber-technology, agricultural economics, sociology, Extension and outreach, communication, and marketing to improve the use and uptake of climate information for agricultural decision making. Together, and with members of the agricultural community, we developed a series of decision support tools, resource materials, and training methods to support data-driven decision making and the adoption of climate-resilient practices.
Ongoing engagement of key stakeholder groups is at the core of the U2U project and highly critical to its success. Agricultural producers, advisors, and extension educators serve as both participants in the human dimension research and as representatives on the U2U Advisory Committee. These interactions inform the design and dissemination of decision support tools (DSTs) and associated training materials.
Project evaluation occurs at every step in the process, from fundamental research to product dissemination and outreach, to inform and improve performance. An evaluation team monitors progress toward activities and outputs, and measures the learning gains, attitudes changes, and behavior changes associated with delivered products and resources.
HUBzero™ technology serves as the supporting middle-ware that integrates tasks across all objectives throughout the duration of this project and beyond. It facilitates the development and delivery of decision support tools, climate and adaptation information, and associated materials. HUBzero™ is a NSF-funded and Purdue University developed web-based collaboration environment based on a number of open source packages (Linux, Apache, LDAP, PHP, Joomla, MySQL). It provides features including: interactive simulation tools, presentations and webinars, user groups, wikis and blogs, content tagging, calendar and news features, and feedback mechanisms.