At present, about 40% of the land in the Upper Midwest is used either for agriculture or livestock. The three states are leading producers of a diverse set of agricultural products, including corn, soybeans, dairy, sugar beets, turkeys, apples, hogs, cattle, cranberries and wild rice. There are significant challenges ahead for growers and all others who depend on the agricultural productivity of the region. Such concerns include the low profitability of small family farms and the associated transition to industrial farms, the high rate of conversion of productive farmland to urban use, and possibly adverse impacts of regional climate changes on agriculture.
The role of the Upper Midwest RESAC is to monitor and model the important processes underlying these issues in agriculture. To do this, we require both new tools and new information to understand how human land use, climate, and agriculture interact.|
To meet the regional-scale needs of agriculture, Center researchers are compiling Internet-based datasets and new modeling techniques to predict regional corn and soybean productivity. Various combinations of inputs such as temperature, precipitation, and soil quality are used to predict leaf emergence, daily leaf area index, and ultimately yield. Such crop models and satellite-based monitoring tools will complement conventional data sources, enhance the monitoring of agricultural trends in both space and time, and provide a baseline description of the region's agriculture to assess regional changes. This data is especially useful in focusing attention on high yield areas that may be at risk to urban development.|
At the scale that matters to an individual grower, success and profitability rely on decisions that successfully integrate diverse information on field-scale environmental conditions and the characteristics of individual crops. The objective of the precision farming component of the Center is to enhance the quality and quantity of information available to farmers for making these decisions, as well as distilling it to a useful level. Our current work targets areas that growers and agribusiness have identified as of high importance for either crop health or farm profitability.|
To read more about Agricultural Applications please see our whitepaper (2.02 MB PDF).