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Adaptive Management Basics

Adaptive management is defined as a “process of developing improved management practices for efficient production and resource conservation by the use of participatory learning through continuous systematic assessments”. This definition highlights the important role of farmers in adaptive management, along with scientists, interested regulators, and other stakeholders.

There are other different definitions of adaptive management, so for our purposes here, we will use the term adaptive management interchangeably with the term “farmer participatory learning.”

In general, adaptive management can be described as a multi-step cycle:

1.Farmers, often working with their agronomists or advisors, identify critical problems in N management;

2. Design simple, practical, and robust on-farm evaluation studies such as experiments or surveys;

3. Execute on-farm evaluation studies and collect feedback information;

4. Summarize, analyze and interpret data.

5. Discuss final information with other farmers and agronomy advisors and determine the success of the initial plan or plans tested by various farmers.

6. Devise and implement a new plan, if needed, adjusting  management according to findings from the previous plan.

In summary, adaptive management is a system that includes organizing farmer groups, developing and supporting needed infrastructure, utilizing different tools and standardized protocols for data collection, data summarization and interpretation, and discussing results with farmers and advisors during one-on-one or group meetings.

Adaptive N management may incorporate the use of a wide range of N diagnostic tools, including early-season soil testing, in-season use of crop sensors, chlorophyll meters or soil and crop process-based models (i.e.., Adapt N, Cornell University), which use real time site-specific weather data.

(Source – http://www.isafarmnet.com/AdaptiveNitrogenManagement%20/Adaptive_Nitrogen_Management_2014.pdf)

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