Assessing stakeholder climate data needs for farm-level decision-making in the U.S. Corn Belt

Suzanna Clark, J. Felix Wolfinger, Melissa Kenney, Michael D. Gerst, Heidi A. Roop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Across the Midwest region of the United States, agriculturalists make decisions on a variety of timescales, ranging from daily to weekly, monthly, and seasonally. Ever-improving forecasts and decision support tools could assist the decision-making process, particularly in the context of a changing and increasingly variable climate. To be usable, however, the information produced by these forecasts and tools should be salient, credible, legitimate, and iterative-qualities which are achieved through deliberate co-production with stakeholders. This study uses a document analysis approach to explore the climate information needs and priorities of stakeholders in the U.S. Corn Belt. Through the analysis of 50 documents, we find that stakeholders are primarily concerned with practical and tactical decision-making, including from whom they obtain their information, the application of information to agricultural, water, and risk management, and desired economic outcomes. The information that stakeholders desire is less focused on social issues, environmental issues, or long-Term climate resilience. These results can inform the development of future decision support tools, identify known gaps in climate information services to reduce stakeholder fatigue, and serve as an example to scientists trying to understand stakeholder needs in other regions and specialties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalGeoscience Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 7 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Stakeholders mentioned multiple factors that affect their decision-making, whether by encouraging or discouraging a particular course of action, such as crop insurance and capacity, i.e., funding and infrastructure. Crop insurance was mentioned frequently as a factor that could discourage adopting new crops or farming strategies. Funding referred both to a practitioner's liquid funds and to the availability of financial assistance from the government and private entities. “Infrastructure” in the document set most typically referred to physical infrastructure, such as irrigation or machinery. Several other “service and capacity” codes were mentioned but less often than funding and infrastructure, e.g., the ability to make decisions autonomously and flexibly, and structural barriers such as cover crop seed availability and limited market access (Roesch-Mcnally et al., 2018), which prevent the adoption of sustainable practices. Human capacity, such as staff time, training opportunities, leadership, and familiarity with decision support tools, was mentioned rarely.

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