DAWN project launches first phase of an innovative, web-based decision-support tool

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Ashley J. Peters | DAWN and Knowledge Initiatives

The team coordinating the Dashboard for Agricultural Water Use and Nutrient Management 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 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.”

“The DAWN Extension Team participates in the tools and interface development as well as engages with farmers to improve current tools based on users’ feedback,” said Guillermo Balboa, DAWN extension team member at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “The Decision Support Systems Team is currently working on the development of two tools related to nutrients and irrigation management.”

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.

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