Climate change

Local Farmers Are Adapting Amid Climate Change

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As our climate continues to change, local farmers are seeing firsthand the need to adapt.

"Farmers are used to changes in weather but in my personal experience I've seen more and more sudden shifts in even the past few years," said Rodger Phillips, who owns Sub Edge Farm in Farmington with his wife.

The effects of climate change are causing farmers to adjust their traditional workflow.

"Irrigations is one of the biggest lessons that I learned from last year," Phillips said.

The extreme drought through much of last summer forced Phillips to invest in new equipment.

"We're really beefing up the lines that go out to our fields so we can make sure all of our crops are well watered all the time.”

Phillips is also being proactive when it comes to the increasing deer population.

"We've invested a lot of money and time into putting up deer fencing because we know that that's another problem that we know isn't going to go away any time soon," Phillips said.

In addition to adaptions as a result of climate change, Gresczyk Farm in New Hartford is also making more sustainable decisions, such as biodegradable mulch that breaks down into carbon and water.

"It both warms the soil, keeps out weeds,” said Bruce Gresczyk, a co-owner of the New Hartford farm. "It helps shed moisture so the moisture isn't going into the soil it goes off the sides of the plastic to help protect the root zone and it can either warm or cool that root zone to help the crop grow."

The biodegradable mulch also creates much less waste and prevents harmful plastics from getting into the environment.

New techniques like this are presented to local farmers through UConn Extension. It's a resource through the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources that provides continuing education opportunities and introduces new technologies and methods of growing to farmers.

"There are some strategies that farmers are adapting and that is helping them produce more in a more sustainable way," said Shuresh Ghimire, an assistant extension educator with UConn.

UConn Extension also studies ways to help farmers extend their growing season as temperature trends shift through the use of high tunnels, caterpillar tunnels, and greenhouses.

"You risk losing your crop by pursuing that early or late market,” said Gresczyk. “But at the same time, it's a higher reward so you're always trying to play this balancing act."

"Farmers are good at adapting, that's one thing that I know," Phillips said.

To learn more about the resources provided by Uconn Extension, click here.

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