In response to the White House Climate Data Initiative, Regenesis Management Group and SWIIM System are launching a comprehensive effort to help communities explore the consequences of future climate and water-use scenarios based upon agricultural crop-water availability.
Regenesis and SWIIM maintain an already-established, five-year research and development arrangement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that has been focused on creating crop-optimization and water-conservation tools for the western United States. We have partnered again with the USDA to create an open source application that will process certain data available to the public via the National Agricultural Statistics Database (NASS). The application will be designed to allow users to view trends within irrigated agriculture, crop yields, related farm income, and derived total economic impact relative to historical and projected water transfers. The application will also project future agricultural water needs and availability based upon a range of modeled temperature changes, and will explore the economic impact of variations in agricultural output due to water transfers and climate change.
We plan to focus our initial efforts on the western United States – agricultural hotbeds where water scarcity due to drought and demand from municipal and industrial sources are providing unprecedented challenges. Promotion of the model will start in Colorado, California, and other regions where these pressures exist. There are at least 19 western states that could potentially benefit from the methods and approaches provided within the application, and its users (i.e. policy makers, farm communities, and those interested in water policy and local farm economies) will be able to make strides toward becoming more resource resilient. The application will be made available to the public and will be followed by additional education around public- and private-sector tools that help us, as a community, consider ways to maintain a healthy rural, agricultural economy that is able to respond quickly to non-agricultural (municipal, industrial, and environmental) water needs under extreme climatic conditions.
“Because issues surrounding water transfers between agriculture and other users can be complex, we felt it was critical to create a series of easy-to-use tools to model changes in water use to combat the impacts of climate change,” said Regenesis partner and SWIIM CEO, Kevin France. “It is our responsibility to use our collective knowledge to bring these issues to light and do our part to become part of the solution.”
Dr. Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education & Economics at the USDA believes that “Open access applications will allow more stakeholders to take greater advantage of the large amounts of USDA data available on line, and will ultimately lead to improved water conservation in the West.”
“Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to climate change,” said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor. “The commitments being announced today answer that call by empowering the U.S. and global agricultural sectors with the tools and information needed to keep food systems strong and secure in a changing climate.”
We plan to extend the reach of these efforts through continued collaboration with the USDA, including the intent to imbed its Quickstats software to allow updated data from the NASS and other pertinent sources to be available within the application, real-time.