Farmers, ranchers and scientists will be working together to come up with farm-level practices to address climate change and chip away at greenhouse gas emissions.
Allison Thomson is the Ag Mission program director for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Her goal is to make agriculture net-negative for greenhouse gas emissions. Thomson says for the science to be meaningful it has to involve the farmers and ranchers who use that information.
“We’ll involve them not just as study subjects but involve them in the beginning on helping to design the research. Understanding from the start, what are their questions? We know a lot of these climate smart practices are not new ideas, things like cover crops or reducing tillage,” says Thomson. “And farmers are aware that these strategies can be helpful. So, the challenge is really understanding from the farmers at the beginning what is the barrier to doing that? There are a lot of different things that could limit the farmer or rancher’s ability to take up some of these practices.”
Ag data is fragmented and kind of all-over the place so they will be creating an “integration hub” website to connect farmers with scientists. She says the goal is to organize all that informational data.
“We are intending to invest in developing an infrastructure for that that all of the scientists, all of the Extensions, all of the tool developers can use to accelerate their efforts and be able to really dig in and understand what is known, and use that to inform their tool development, which will be what’s used directly by the farmers,” she explains. “So, think of it as instead of creating a new boat that everybody has to use, we want to lift all the boats that are already there, and help farmers get the information through the channels they already get their information from.”
Thomson says they hope to have the infrastructure ready to go in a couple of years.