Tag Archives: tools

Degree days at a glance

What are degree days and why do we use them? Degree days are an important part of many NEWA tools, but what are they and whey do we use them?

Insect and plant development is controlled by temperature. Warmer temperatures speed development while colder temperatures slow development. This relationship can be used to track the life cycle of an insect or plant with something called a degree-day model.

A degree day is a unit of measurement that is species-specific and represents some proportion of overall insect or plant development. Degree days are calculated by using maximum and minimum temperature to calculate a daily average, then subtracting a base temperature. NEWA weather stations provide daily temperature information to track pest development, and the rate of degree-day accumulation is unique for each location. It also helps to think of degree days as accumulated points, not accumulated days.

Different insects have a different degree day requirements. This caterpillar pest has a base temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (or 10 degrees Celsius) and a developmental requirement 1000 ‘base 50F’ degree days from egg to adult. Image Copyright Dan Olmstead NYS IPM Program.

For a long time, pest management information learned from our parents and grandparents was accurate. But now, the weather is less predictable, especially in the last five or ten years. (And new pests have emerged.) Sadly, cross-generational knowledge is becoming less reliable. Degree-day models are now the best basis for agricultural pest management decisions.

A farmer is going to see changes in pest pressure, planting time, or crop development from one year to the next. Degree-day models, combined with modern technology, give growers a better estimate of pest status. There is still variability, but he or she is better informed to make effective management decisions.

Degree day requirements for an insect won’t change. But the time needed to gather those degree days is variable.

Up next, we will take a closer look at degree day tools available on NEWA.

Farm adaptation: grower programs and resources

A variety of programs and informational resources are available to inform your farm adaptation plan.  NEWA provides real time forecasting tools for insect and disease pests. The Cornell Smart Farming Program provides tools for growers to address longer term climate concerns. The Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate project provides a specialized set of tools for livestock producers. A number of reports have also been published recently that have information useful to the agricultural community.

Program Description
Network for Environment and Weather Applications (New York State Integrated Pest Management Program) NEWA delivers weather information and apps based on the weather collected that support and advance integrated pest management (IPM) and best management practices for agricultural and green industries. Our vision is that NEWA will become the source for weather-related information for the IPM practitioner in the Northeast
Cornell Smart Farming Program (Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions) The Cornell Climate Smart Farming program is a voluntary initiative that helps farmers in New York and the northeastern US to increase productivity in a sustainable way, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, and increase farm resiliency to extreme weather and climate variability.
Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate (Cornell University Dairy Environmental Systems Program) Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate fosters animal production practices that are environmentally sound and economically viable, and that create resiliency for animal producers and their partners.
United States Department of Agriculture Northeast Climate Hub The Northeast Climate Hub, building on capacity within USDA, delivers science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and D.C
CLN eLearning  (Southern Regional Extension Forestry) CLN eLearning is designed to help Extension Professionals, Professional Crop Advisors and Professional Foresters incorporate climate change into their existing program areas and become Climate Literate. Many of our modules offer Continuing Education Credits from SAF and CCA.
Report  Description
 2014 USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan  (USDA Office of the Chief Economist)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Climate Change Adaptation Plan presents strategies and actions to address the effects of climate change on key mission areas including agricultural production, food security, rural development, and forestry and natural resources conservation.

The 2014 USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan includes input from eleven USDA agencies and offices.  It provides a detailed vulnerability assessment, reviews the elements of USDA’s mission that are at risk from climate change, and provides specific actions and steps being taken to build resilience to climate change.

National Climate Assessment: Agriculture (U.S. Global Change Research Program) The full report of the National Climate Assessment provides an in-depth look at climate change impacts on the U.S. and explores the impacts to agriculture.
Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food  (United States Environmental Protection Agency) Agriculture is an important sector of the U.S. economy. The crops, livestock, and seafood produced  in the United States contribute more than $300 billion to the economy each year. When food-service and other agriculture-related industries are included, the agricultural and food sectors contribute more than $750 billion to the gross domestic product

Read part 1 and part 2 of this series.