Adapting to unpredictable weather is part of Lamar Black’s job as a farmer in Jenkins County, Ga.

Black grows cotton, corn and peanuts on more than 400 acres, so each year he plans for and adjusts to extreme temperatures and rain, or lack thereof.

“We are in a changing climate, for whatever reason,” Black said. “It appears that we’re not getting the rainfall in the winter we used to get.

“We used to get a lot of rain in the wintertime. The last few years it hasn’t been. The summers seem to be hotter.”

Drought tops the list

The surge in temperatures from June until August is made worse by the drought-like conditions much of the state of Georgia is suffering through.

“The drought has been the biggest concern,” Black said. “Back in 2011 it was extremely dry. Who knows what’s going to happen this year. We’re all hoping for the best.”

Fortunately for Black, technological advances allow farmers to combat that unpredictability. Such advances include sensor-based irrigation management (sensors in the field that help farmers deliver scheduled irrigation optimally), subsurface drip irrigation (a method of watering crops underground that requires less water than other irrigation systems and allows the soil surface to stay dry, reducing weeds) and AgroClimate (a Web-based system that helps producers plan for upcoming seasons using the best available forecasts about what the climate will do in the next few months).

“I think it’s really critical, especially when we’re in periods of drought to be able to look at technologies and implement them so that producers can have the yields they’re accustomed to,” said George Vellidis, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences professor on the Tifton campus.

UGA researchers addressing climate trends

Vellidis was one of the presenters at the Climate Adaptation Exchange event in Tifton on Feb. 8. The event featured management strategies like variable-rate irrigation, primed acclimation, sod-based rotation, conservation tillage and high-residue cover crops and energy efficiency alternatives.