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Cows
iStock

Farming to mitigate the effects of climate change

Land trusts are working to help their communities understand how farming can be part of the solution.

At Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve, farmers will be using regenerative methods to help mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change. Industrial-conventional agriculture models have focused on single-crop operations that have exceeded the natural carrying capacity of the land, ruining soil, water, habitat, and air quality. Regenerative methods seek to reverse some of this damage by rebuilding degraded soils, increasing biodiversity, and creating healthy, fair, and just food systems…

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Healthy Sprout
iStock

Climate change affects soil health

Installing millions of acres of solar that are mowed like lawns, to me, is a gigantic waste. Instead, we could promote elevated solar that allows for a diversity of farming and ranching underneath and between the panels.

For too long, we’ve been saying that solar should avoid farmland, based upon soil type (meaning, avoiding lands of “prime” or “statewide” importance, etc.). Yet given that we know that climate change is stressing soils, and making farming and ranching more difficult, the question could better be framed: “How can solar (and wind) help farm and ranch viability, water retention, and soil health?”

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Solar

Agrivoltaics. An economic lifeline for American farmers?

I thought you might appreciate this very thoughtful video about the role of "agrivoltaics" in water conservation, farm viability, and economic impact.

As natural systems become more stressed by climate change and the resulting disasters and impacts, natural climate solutions become more vulnerable.

Nature needs renewables — and our collective work to reduce energy consumption — to flourish.

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Flowers And Solar
Rob Davis

Farm-friendly solar site management

You have an opportunity to help others understand, and embrace, the importance of compatible renewables. We need people to understand that nature and farms need us to transition away from fossil fuels ASAP. And that means supporting renewables in ways that help with farm viability, pollinators, soil health, and water quality.

You may find the slides of this presentation helpful in understanding how you and/or community organizations can think through how solar can be compatible with conservation and farming goals — and how to help communities recognize the importance.

There is an opportunity to help people understand how compatible wind and solar can add to farm viability, soil health, and water quality.

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Soil Health
Alexandre Family Farm

Nation’s first regenerative dairy works with nature to heal soil — at scale

If agriculture is important in your region, this is the type of story that might be worth sharing — and talking about how it could be important to support agriculture in being part of the climate solution.

At a time when large dairy brands are experimenting with scaling up regenerative practices, Alexandre Family Farm is working to set the standard for the future of the industry…

The couple currently farm on about 9,000 acres (up from 560 acres when they first bought the ranch) with 8,000 head of cattle, including 4,500 mature cows, spread across four locations. All of their cows are on pasture after 5 months of age and the entire land gets grazed eight to nine times per year…

More than a dozen Northeastern dairies (all small-scale, with 100 – 150 cows) are currently going through the ROC certification process, Whitlow says, and the hope is that once those are announced, “it’ll show what’s possible”…

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Dawn Fishin
San Bernardino County

Six habitat improvements that are also climate solutions

One of the challenges of working to slow down climate change is realizing that current lands and waters are already doing an important part of the job. Conserving them, as is, won't increase their ability to do more; managing them with climate change in mind might — and it will help reduce the chances that climate change will get worse due to land loss or conversion.

When you think about who cares about slowing down climate change, don’t forget about hunters, anglers, and those who have a long-standing connection with the land.

There is no one silver bullet nor single set of actions that will turn the tides entirely — climate change can only be addressed with a comprehensive strategy that involves all of us and all the tools we have. Thankfully, this includes habitat conservation measures that are already supported by sportsmen and women.

Here are six habitat improvement strategies that provide this win-win proposition: better hunting and fishing opportunities and fewer climate-change-driven impacts to fish and wildlife….

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Cowboys
MALT

Running on renewable energy

Given that climate change, if left unchecked, will destroy much of the lands and waters we are working to conserve, conservation groups are switching to renewable energy sources as a moral and mission-centered move. It also can save them money.

Talking about how, and why, your land trust has transitioned to renewable energy, is important. Modeling this shift is a leadership move that will inspire others to do the same. Posting it on the land trust’s website, or the energy provider’s website, so folks can find out more about it, is smart:

MALT helps preserve the rich agricultural heritage of Marin County by protecting its clean water, clear air, and open space. Climate change threatens Marin’s farming way of life. We operate on 100% renewable energy from MCE because reducing fossil fuel pollution will help our cause in the long run. MALT is proud to join a community of businesses and organizations in Marin who choose to reduce our carbon impact through MCE’s Deep Green Energy Program.

MALT is also raising the profile about the importance of “Carbon Farming“— demonstrating how they are walking the walk to make a difference in a variety of ways. Check out that information HERE.

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Living Soil
Soil Health Institute

Finding the right messengers

Climate change is threatening farm and ranch viability. Consider sharing this film on your Facebook page or encourage your land trust to feature it in their eNews. Because, as you know, "without farmers and ranchers, there isn't farmland."

This new documentary about regenerative agriculture highlights farmers and ranchers who are seeing the economic benefits of farming with soil in mind, and the climate benefits of doing so, as well.

ASA shared this on their Facebook page and linked it to their work

“Living Soil tells the story of farmers, scientists, and policymakers working to incorporate regenerative agricultural practices to benefit soil health for years to come. ASA has been offering soil health workshops for several years now…”

You can find the post here (just scroll down to August 31).

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Solar And Tractors
NREL

Largest agrivoltaic research project in U.S. advances renewable energy while empowering local farmers

The time has come to help clarify that farmland and solar can work together — and become a key tool in keeping farmland viable, and in the hands of farming families.

Jack’s Solar Garden, a 1.2-MW solar farm in Boulder County, Colorado, is unique in that it represents the largest agrivoltaic research project in the United States and encompasses four types of vegetation at a single site.

According to [Byron] Kominek, he wanted the farm to be “a model for other small farms that want to keep their soils productive while taking advantage of the economic benefits that clean energy production can provide.”

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Farmland Aerial
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Despite Capitol Hill enthusiasm for planting crops to store carbon, few farmers are doing it

Understanding the barriers, and providing solutions to those barriers, will be an important part of the change. So will being realistic about the pace, costs, and benefits (in a holistic manner).

A study published in Science Advances in 2018 found that planting cover crops has the potential to hold carbon in the soil or offset emissions, but only if it is scaled-up across hundreds of millions of acres. To put any meaningful dent in U.S. emissions, EWG’s analysis found, current “cover crop acres would have to increase fourteen-fold to get close to the number of acres needed to achieve a minicscule reduction.”

The findings come as cover crops, once an obscure concept far removed from the conversations of Washington politicians, have become central to legislation aimed at helping farmers control carbon emissions. Last week, the Senate passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act, designed to help farmers participate in carbon offset markets…

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