Trends in Days Suitable for Fieldwork?
A question given climate change is whether there have been any trends in days suitable for fieldwork over time. In Nebraska, a definitive trend cannot be discerned. The trendline shown on Figure 2 shows a slight increase in days suitable for fieldwork. The Kansas State University AgManager website shows a similar trend for the April 1-June 15 period. However, neither result is statistically significant, so one cannot definitively conclude days suitable for fieldwork have increased.
Research has shown the trends vary among states. In research from 2017, Michelle Mensing, a graduate student at Kansas State University, found that Iowa was losing days suitable for planting, slightly more than a day every 10 years. Mensing also found days suitable for fieldwork in Kansas and Missouri had slight increases over time, although neither result was statistically significant. A paper by William Edwards, a retired economist from Iowa State University, also showed days suitable for fieldwork in Iowa between April 2 and June 17 had dropped from 48 days to 35 days between 1964 and 2019, or almost one day every 4 years.
Finally, Figure 4 shows the average days suitable for fieldwork each week between April 1 and June 15. The average number of days per week was 4.4 but as Figure 4 indicates the number of days per week increases from 3.8 days in early April to 4.95 days by mid-June. If farmers aren’t able to work in the fields in April, the opportunities increase through May and June.
Figure 4. Average Days per Week Suitable for Fieldwork, 1996-2021