UD, USDA offer a ‘360’ view of ways farmers can adapt to climate change

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The University of Delaware is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on “As if You Were There,” a project highlighting key climate adaptation practices at farm and forest sites within the region.

Through interactive 360 degree photography and videos, users embark on virtual field tours. UD’s Warrington Irrigation Research Farm in Harbeson is one of the featured locations in this USDA Northeast Climate Hub virtual demonstration project; studies at Warrington analyze water management, maximizing crop yields and improving profits.

“The purpose of this project is to harness new technology combined with educational storytelling to engage more people in climate informed decision-making,” said Erin Lane, Coordinator for the USDA Northeast Climate Hub and a leader for this project. “We want to help capture and share the stories of innovative land managers and researchers. The intent is to provide our audience with an interactive experience which will create greater understanding and inspiration. The tours are designed to make you feel ‘as if you were there.’”

By improving water management, farmers can be more sure that crops receive adequate water throughout the growing season. A more efficient irrigation system can save money, energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Given to the University by Everett Warrington in 1992, the Warrington Farm is equipped with a variable rate center pivot irrigation system, which was upgraded in 2012. In 2016, the irrigation system was upgraded again to reflect the latest advancements.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, high heat and droughts are likely to become more common as the climate changes. Irrigation is widely used to protect crop yields during these extreme events. More efficient use of water will help growers maintain or increase their crop yields under changing climate conditions and better protect the environment.

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