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What is adaptive management?

Adaptive management has probably been taking place as long as human beings have been around. Just about everyone can be given a recipe or a method to do something but often they find they need to adapt that recipe or those instructions to fit their own situation.

They may have to substitute recipe ingredients they have on hand or that are available to them. Or they may have to cut the shelves down a bit to fit the space they have available. That’s adaptive management.

Researchers at Cornell University, led by Dr. Quirine Ketterings, were among the first to pioneer the concept of adaptive management for agriculture, with the aim of developing adaptive nitrogen (N) management strategies.

The Cornell blog describes adaptive management as: “the process of refining a management strategy in response to evaluating its success. It takes into account data (measurements and observations) collected for local (often field-level) conditions, and evaluates success based on scientific principles and local experience. This iterative and interactive learning process looks for win-win opportunities, so that the grower is able to adopt practices that make sense locally for increasing profits and reducing environmental impacts at the same time.”

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