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U2U project receives Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence

piece of glass engraved

Useful to Usable (U2U), a Purdue University initiative to make climate data more accessible to farmers, has been named the winner of the annual Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.

The award was presented by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in a ceremony yesterday in Indianapolis. In addition to U2U, two other organizations were honored from among statewide submissions.

“These awards recognize Hoosier organizations that employ innovation, energy efficiency, pollution prevention and environmental stewardship,” said Bruno Pigott, commissioner of IDEM. “We are excited to share these best practices with other organizations across the Hoosier state.”

U2U was designed to create interactive online resources farmers could use to measure and manage the effects of an increasingly variable climate. Researchers surveyed and interviewed crop producers and their advisors to determine what type of climate data they employ when making growing decisions. The team then used those insights to develop five decision-support tools to help farmers determine what and when to plant, as well as how to maximize yields while limiting negative effects on the environment.

Linda Prokopy, professor of natural resource social science and U2U project lead director, said the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence is “a really great validation of all the work we put in over six years and an indication that the work we did really had an impact on the environment both here in Indiana and regionally.”

U2U research led to 162 scientific conference presentations, 53 Extension publications, book chapters, and magazine articles, and 55 peer-reviewed publications, including a special issue of the journal Climate Risk Management dedicated to the project.

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded the U2U project. Purdue team members were Melissa Widhalm, Larry Biehl, Sarah Church, Otto Doering, Laura Esman, Dev Niyogi, Paul Preckel, Hans Schmitz, Carol Song, Lan Zhao, and Ben Gramig (now at the University of Illinois).

The U2U online tools are now available through the High Plains Regional Climate Center and Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

by Darrin Pack: dpack@purdue.edu

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