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Climate Smart Farming (BF 107)

Develop an action plan for your farm to stay one step ahead of climate change.


The earth’s climate is always in flux, but today’s rate of change is far beyond what previous generations of farmers have had to face.

In this six-week online course, learn to identify the key impacts on your farm, and how to develop a plan of action to both increase resiliency to extreme temperature and precipitation events, or short term drought, as well as strategies to reduce your farm’s greenhouse gas footprint.

Participants will learn from climate experts, educators, and fellow farmers on ways they can proactively approach challenges such as drought, flooding, summer heat stress, changing seasons, freeze risk, and heightened pest and weed pressures.

These practices are not only good for climate preparedness, but also help farms increase their bottom line by building soil health, reducing stress on animals, increasing energy efficiency and efficiency of farm inputs, and protecting crop yields.


Target Audience

ALL LEVELS – This course is for prospective, new, or experienced farmers interested in increasing the resiliency and sustainability of their farm, in order to be better prepared to respond to climate variability and climate change.  This course focuses primarily on experiences and practices for the Northeast United States, but the general ideas presented are applicable everywhere.


Course Objectives

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the science behind climate change and the impacts to agriculture
  • Assess the risks that extreme weather and climate variability pose to your specific farm
  • Understand and assess potential opportunities that climate change presents to your farm
  • Develop a plan of action on how to respond to increase the adaptation and sustainability of your farm
  • Gain familiarity with new tools and resources to arm you with more accurate information to make more informed decisions


The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from presenters and ask questions in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.


Dr. Allison Chatrchyan, Director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions Senior Research Associate in the Departments of Development Sociology and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Jonathan Lambert, Staff Member with the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, Masters in Climate and Society from Columbia University

Course Dates

January 17th, 2017 to February 21st, 2017, with webinars on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 PM Eastern time. Course is FULL and will next be offered in Jan. 2018.

Course Outline

Week 1: Intro to Climate Change and its Impacts to Ag and the Food System 
Topics covered: Course structure and overview, Moodle, basics of the climate system and climate change, global and regional impacts of climate change

Week 2: Intro to Climate Smart Farming 
Topics covered: Climate smart farming, mitigation, adaptation, responses to impacts, best management practices, class project introduction (come up with a strategy for mitigation, adaptation, or decision tool use on your farm), cool farm/comet farm, opportunities (new crops, new varieties, new markets)

Week 3: Climate Adaptation: Land, Soil, and Crops
Topics covered: Soil health, carbon sequestration, no till/low till, land use, cover cropping, cover crop tool(s), controlled environment ag, adaptive framework

Week 4: Climate Adaptation: Increasing Resiliency to Too Much or Too Little Water 
Topics covered: When it rains it pours (water issues are noticed first), irrigation, water quality, runoff, nutrients, irrigation tools

Week 5: Farming for Energy, and Carbon Footprint Reductions 
Topics covered: In-depth decision analyses (farm energy assessment, GHG mitigation assessment, cool farm tool, etc.), renewable energy (wind, solar, methane digesters, incentives and programs)

Week 6: Tying it All Together: Realizing Your Climate Smart Farming Goals
Topics covered: Student presentations (adaptation or mitigation integrated into business plan), policy and regulatory atmosphere, review, action plan, farmer input

Cost and Registration

This course is currently FULL and registration is closed until Fall 2017.