Lesson 4: How can we monitor the effects locally?

Farm-Educator Prep:

  • Review farm monitoring efforts or relevant data collection on farm that could demonstrate climate risk/resilience.

  • Visit MESA Climate Resilience for Farmers course site for more ideas/references.


  • Climate Resilient Farm assessment tool- adapted from MESA Climate Resilience for Farmers online course.


  • Warm-up: Students write in journals, then discuss: How do scientists monitor climate change? What examples have you heard of? How do farmers monitor climate change?

    • Key agricultural indicators: Yield, quality, supply/demand interface, water availability/consumption, soil health.

  • Mini Lesson: Forms of monitoring- what is used for data tracking on farms? Weather data and evolving climate predictions (from models), smart sensors and citizen science projects, farmer networks, observation.

  • Activity 1: Walk around the farm and look for indicators that might be useful in assessing the impact of climate change on farms, or useful indicators of resilience. Observe water holding capacity of various soil types- collect some samples from farm, and others from nearby locations (or non-cultivated land), and pour water through sample and observe speed with which it flows through. Which has been water holding capacity?  

    • Option: do before/after compost application to notice if there is a significant improvement.

  • Activity 2: Create a climate change monitoring plan/plot for the farm. What will you monitor, how will you collect the data, and what do you expect the changes to be in the future?

  • Wrap-up: Share another example of climate resilient farming assessment. If you wanted to monitor effects of climate change and effectiveness of adaptation/resilience strategies, how would you go about setting up an experiment? Draw in journals where you would set this up on the farm- consider test plots vs. control plots, location, type of crop grown, etc.