Date of this Version
Published in Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology (June 2010) Volume 49, Issue 6 pp. 1333-1340. DOI: 10.1175/2010JAMC2270.1
Despite tremendous efforts to improve weather and climate predictions and to inform farmers about the use of such weather products, farmers’ attitudes toward forecast use remain poor and farmer use of forecasts has not increased. This paper describes features of a new conceptual model for facilitating farmers’ use of weather products and offers preliminary evidence for its effectiveness based on a test-of-concept prototype. The prototype system provides farmers with contextualized information, the opportunity to use that information in relevant farming contexts, and collaborative interaction with other users. In addition, scaffolding and feedback are incorporated in the model to enhance learning and motivation. Surveys before and after use of the prototype system, and focus-group discussion after system use, were conducted to obtain evaluations from 15 farmers in southeastern Nebraska. Farmers’ evaluations of the system were moderately positive and indicated greater intentions to use the products in the future than they had in the past. However, farmers only slightly increased their positive expectancies of various general categories of weather and climate products, supporting the difficulties associated with changing overall attitudes when attempting to transfer scientific improvements into practical uses. It is suggested that multiple exposures to such a system and more individualized and personally relevant use opportunities may further enhance the power of the proposed model.