Indiana Smart Agriculture Work Group Issues Report To Improve Sustainability And Profitability

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Source: Solutions from the Land news release

It’s June 1. You’ve got 4,000 acres of corn and 2,500 acres of soybeans to plant. So far, you’ve planted 150 acres of corn, and 40 of them are underwater.

Can this scenario happen in Indiana?

“It already has-in 2019,” says Don Villwock, Edwardsport, a farmer and former president of Indiana Farm Bureau.

“Changes in weather patterns are real, and we need to learn how to adapt to them,” Villwock says. “It’s bigger than one farmer can face alone. We need everyone, plus help from our partners in agriculture, including Purdue Extension, agribusiness, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and our Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.”

Villwock and Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension, took a big step toward creating a framework that would allow farmers, Extension, government and agribusiness to address the impacts of climate change by forming the Indiana Smart Agriculture (INSA) Work Group in February 2022 with support from Solutions from the Land and Purdue University’s College of Agriculture. INSA met three times last year to discuss the situation and identify ways to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture across the state.

“Despite our amazing evolution over time and impressive production statistics, our future is not assured and changing climatic conditions, combined with other challenges, threaten the economic viability and environmental sustainability of farms, ranches and woodlands across the state,” says Jason Henderson, senior associate dean in the Purdue University College of Agriculture and director of Purdue Extension.

Henderson and Don Villwock, farmer and past Indiana Farm Bureau president, co-chair the work group, which today has released its first report, “Indiana Smart Agriculture Report: A Vision and Roadmap for Indiana Climate-Smart Agriculture.” The document summarizes INSA’s work, findings and recommendations and is signed by 15 Indiana farmers and nine partners, including representatives from Purdue, USDA and Indiana Department of Agriculture.

The farmer-led Indiana Smart Agriculture Work Group agrees that:

Climate change is real and is not going away.

Driving forces for change (including weather events, crop and livestock losses, expectations of value chain partners and institutional investors, growth in governmental climate-smart agriculture program resources) are increasing.

Producers need to lead climate-smart agriculture conversations and adaptive management planning work.

The state and agriculture sector would benefit from the development of a farmer-led adaptation/mitigation strategy for presentation to their peers, policymakers, researchers and value-chain partners.

At the center of discussions was another reality: profitability.

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