June 2018
Farm & Field

Extension Corner: "Climate and Crops"

Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s iBook is chosen as a finalist for 2017 Best Book of the Year in Education.


Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s "Climate and Crops" iBook was named an international finalist for 2017 Best Book of the Year in Education.

Bradley Metrock, organizer of the international iBooks Author Conference and CEO of Score Publishing, said the designation honors the best books in Apple’s iBook Store.

"Each year, as part of the international iBooks Author Conference, the community of educators, designers and entrepreneurs from all over the world nominate digital books created using Apple’s software on the basis of excellence and uniqueness," Metrock said. "‘Climate and Crops’ was nominated in the Science Education and Overall Education categories. In both instances, it went on to become a finalist, selected from hundreds of nominations from across the world."

Dr. Gary Lemme, ACES director, called the award a truly exceptional recognition.

"Having ‘Climate and Crops’ selected from the thousands of iBooks released annually reflects the quality work done by our Extension specialists and communications professionals," he said. "‘Climate and Crops’ is unique among the other iBooks recognized.

"It is not a textbook targeting college students and professionals but rather focuses on helping Alabama farmers adjust to contemporary climatic variability to sustain the profitability of family farms."

Dean Paul Patterson of Auburn University’s College of Agriculture called the honor an important recognition of the research done by Dr. Brenda Ortiz, an ACES precision agriculture specialist and associate professor in Auburn University’s Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, and others.

"Auburn is proud of the work Dr. Ortiz and her colleagues have done in developing this iBook," Patterson said. "It is an excellent example of how information on developments in science related to climate variability can help farmers make more profitable decisions.

"Also, it is an excellent primer for the interested reader in how climate variability affects all of our lives."


Dr. Brenda Ortiz discusses irrigation with Jim Lewey, of LC Farms in Samson.


Multistate Effort

Ortiz served as the lead author for the book. Twenty-five climate and crop experts, specializing in agronomy, entomology, plant pathology, climatology and weed science contributed to the report. They were from four of the Southeast’s leading research universities: Auburn University, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida and Florida State University. ACES specialists representing several scientific disciplines also contributed.

Auburn Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department Head Dr. John Beasley called the award an important recognition for the scientists’ work.

"This validates the critical importance of the ‘Climate and Crops’ content," Beasley said. "Understanding the impact of climate in crop production will continue to be paramount among factors affecting our food supply."


Helping Farmers Manage Risk

Ortiz noted the free iBook that has earned multiple national honors can enhance farmers’ profitability.

"It outlines potential farming climate scenarios and the agronomic risks typically associated with these scenarios," Ortiz explained. "It also outlines risk-management strategies growers can adopt in response."

Funded by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the iBook focuses on the Southeast’s five major row crops: corn, cotton, peanut, soybean and wheat. It features multiple interactive options, including videos, interactive graphics and images related to insects, diseases and weeds.

Each chapter includes basic considerations associated with crop production. Additionally, they cover potential climatic conditions that may occur during the growing season and how these affect the principal crops in terms of planting; crop growth and development; insect, weed and disease pressure; and harvesting. Along with the risks, farmers are provided with the most effective management strategies to deal with each of these climate scenarios.

Intended to be a comprehensive resource for farmers, crop consultants and ACES professionals, "Climate and Crops" provides a valuable resource for school teachers who want to introduce their students to how farming practices adapt to new findings about climate variability.

Learn more about "Climate and Crops" at http://www.aces.edu/climateandcrops.


Maggie Lawrence is the news unit manager for Alabama Cooperative Extension System.