An experiential model of drought risk and future irrigation behaviors among central Minnesota farmers

Mae A. Davenport, Amelia Kreiter, Kate A Brauman, Bonnie Keeler, J. Arbuckle, Vasudha Sharma, Amit K Pradhananga, Ryan Noe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Anticipatory water planning must address not only future climatic conditions but also the experiential dimensions of risk that drive human and societal adaptation. Compared to the western USA, agricultural producers in the upper Corn Belt have had less exposure to extreme drought and less irrigated agriculture. If climate change threatens to increase drought frequency or severity in the Corn Belt, a transition from rain-fed agriculture to irrigated agriculture in this region would require systemic changes and significant financial investments. Knowing what drives drought risk perceptions and irrigation behaviors will inform anticipatory planning and water supply management. We surveyed central Minnesota farmers about their drought risk perceptions in two groundwater management areas where climate models project heightened variability in water supply during the growing season. We examined the influence of farmers’ drought exposure beliefs, farm sensitivity appraisals, and drought risk perceptions on future irrigation behaviors. We presented farmers with experiential scenarios of future drought derived from downscaled climate projections and asked about their likelihood of adopting or expanding irrigation systems under those conditions. Findings indicate that many farmers surveyed are concerned about drought, in part because they believe that future droughts are likely in the area and their farms are sensitive to drought. More than one quarter of farmers reported being likely to adopt or expand irrigation under several drought-experience scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Project funding was provided by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (NIFA AFRI), project 1012161.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Agriculture
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Drought risk perception
  • Irrigation


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