Specialist Interview with Rick Kersbergen

Extension Professor, Sustainable Dairy and Forage Systems

Rick Kersbergen has been with UMaine Cooperative Extension as an Extension Professor for 32 years.  Since starting in this position he has observed quite variable and more unpredictable weather, especially in the springtime.  Although he does recollect that the weather has been pretty erratic for most of his tenure with Extension.  As a result of more variable weather, Rick notes that farmers have had to fit more operations into shorter periods of opportunity.  In response he’s seen many of the farmers he works with switch to more rapid harvest machinery (bigger choppers, mowers, planters etc.).  No-till corn has also helped but he predicts that the wet fall in central Maine last year will force many to till out ruts in the spring of 2020.  Rick suggests farmers try to plan ahead and be ready to go when opportunities are available, not to rely on usual “times” to do things and to diversify cropping options if possible.  In terms of the tools or information that would be most helpful to farmers in response to changes in average weather and weather variability Rick thinks there is a need for better long term reliable forecasting to help gage for wet springs, etc.  Lastly, Rick suggests that low cost loan or grant programs are needed to provide incentives for farmers to try new cropping options and that this support could help farmers adapt to risks.