By Sanford Eigenbrode
To help Pacific Northwest farmers understand and adapt to the projected impacts of climate change, nearly 200 scientists, students, and educators from the region’s three land-grant universities in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are finishing up a five-year integrated project. Regional Approaches to Climate Change (REACCH) for Pacific Northwest Agriculture is a large Coordinated Agricultural Project, funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), that is designed to improve the long-term profitability and sustainability of wheat production in the dryland cereal production systems under the projected changing climates of the inland Pacific Northwest.
REACCH works with wheat producers in this region to assist them in adapting to climate variability and change and to minimize harmful greenhouse-gas emissions. The project is transdisciplinary and includes scientists from various disciplines, including sociology, economics to climate science, crop modeling, agronomy, plant pathology, and entomology.
A goal is to work closely across these disciplines to mirror the thorough integrated approach of its primary stakeholders, the region’s farmers. Although primarily a research effort, REACCH includes significant efforts in extension and K-20 education, essential to ensure that its science is actionable. Although REACCH is focused on cereal systems of the inland Pacific Northwest, its context is global because of the worldwide importance of cereal systems for food security. The world has benefited enormously from the global effort to improve the productivity of wheat and other cereals, and from the networks of researchers who have dedicated their lives to this work. Yet, the demands for increased production with growing populations are pressing, and changing climates add another challenge. Rapid progress will not only depend on new technology, but how well it is applied and integrated into these complex production systems.
To achieve this goal, a new type of collaborative network is required that can address complex systems locally, regionally, and globally. REACCH is sponsoring a conference called Transitioning Cereal Systems to Adapt to Climate Change, which will take place November 13-14, 2015, immediately prior to the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), which will be co-located with the annual meeting of the TriSocieties (AAA, CSA, SSA) in Minneapolis.
This conference will bring together 200 scientists from around the world and within the REACCH project to address this need. Keynote presentations by Hans Herren (Millenium Institute), Ann Bartuska (Undersecretary of Agriculture, USA), David Lobell (Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment) and contributions from many other leading scientists will form a core, but an emphasis will be on creative synthesis of all participants. Sessions include:
– Genetic Resources
– Drought effects on water resources and crop production in semi-arid regions
– Cropping system improvements and innovation
– Crop protection: pests, weeds and pathogens
– Identifying and assessing adaptation strategies
– Greenhouse gas monitoring mitigation
– Cropping system models as platforms for integration
– Collaborative translational science
– Data management to enable regional and global efforts.
Synthesis efforts will identify ways to improve integration among existing networks including the International Wheat Initiative, the CGIAR centers, the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP), and others. It will be a superb opportunity for networking by leading, established scientists and by young investigators.
The organizers see this conference as consistent with the unifying theme of the societal meetings: “Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions.”
Symposia or special sessions in the societal meetings, including “Building Agroecosystem Resilience for an Uncertain Future,” “AMIP and Partners,” and “Effects of Global Climate Change on Species Interactions and Biological Control,” will echo the main conference themes, amplifying the theme of synergy that motivates our societies going forward.
Although the conference has more than 40 invited contributors, there are also opportunities for other participants to join and contribute fully to the interactions and networking. Visit this website to register: www.aridcereals.org. Poster presentations are also welcome. Those traveling to Minneapolis and with an interest in the conference themes are urged to join us! But the deadline is approaching — August 24, 2015 — and slots are filling, so hurry if you are interested.
The conference is supported by funds from NIFA, the University of Idaho, Washington State University, Oregon State University, CHS Corporation, and other private donors.
Sanford D. Eigenbrode is professor and chair of the Division of Entomology at the University of Idaho.