The team coordinating the Dashboard for Agricultural Water Use and Nutrient Management (DAWN) Project is seeking farmers and agricultural advisors to provide feedback on newly-launched decision support tools. During Phase 1, the DAWN team wants to work closely with corn and soybean producers. The DAWN website can be accessed at dawn.umd.edu. Agricultural producers can explore the DAWN web tools and also, sign up for the newsletter which provides opportunities for surveys and focus groups in the coming months.
DAWN offers farmers more precise, field-scale outlooks – up to nine months in the future – that are linked to web-based, decision support tools. The first round of tools available on the project website include tracking growing degree days and predicting corn growth over the course of the current season.
“DAWN will help farmers plan their annual crop cycle with more precise information,” said project lead Dr. Xin-Zhong Liang, a professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland with a joint appointment in the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC). “We are providing tools through DAWN to optimize decision-making based on local and regional information.”
“There are technological tools available to improve efficiencies in water and nutrient management, but adoption is key for those efficiencies to be realized,” said Dr. Christopher Neale, who leads the Nebraska effort on evapotranspiration estimation and irrigation scheduling for the DAWN project and is Director of Research at the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute. “For farmers to readily adopt a new technology, they need to be a part of the development and testing phases, and this is our goal with DAWN.The project team’s goal is to provide farmers and specialists across the Corn Belt with the most relevant and reliable information for farm-level decision-making. Farmers and producers can use the website by creating a profile at dawn.umd.edu and creating outlooks specific to location. Surveys will be conducted regularly with those who are active users of the dashboard tools.
DAWN was established in September 2020 and is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, grant #2020-68012-31674. DAWN will give farmers and water managers access to customized forecasts and decision support tools that simulate critical agricultural variables. As each phase of the DAWN project gets rolled out, more tools will become available to help farmers make decisions related to crop selection, planting date, and irrigation and fertilizer applications. DAWN is based on modeling infrastructure that provides seasonal-scale forecasts at finer resolutions and higher accuracies than have previously been available, capturing key climate and crop interactions across the U.S. agricultural heartland.
DAWN works with a consortium of researchers, extension specialists, educators, and stakeholders to fulfill its mission. DAWN partners include researchers at University of Maryland, Colorado State University, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, Kalamazoo College, University of Arizona, and UnCommon Farms.