Climate change, antibiotics may threaten soil
A study by researchers at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, has shown that when rising temperatures combine with antibiotic residues expelled by livestock, it degrades soil microbe efficiency, soil resilience to future stress, and its ability to trap carbon…
Future of many North American crops may depend on ground beetles’ response to climate change
By analyzing data on 136 different ground beetle species from diverse habitats across continental North America, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, the researchers found that a species’ odds of success in a changing climate depend on several core traits, such as its habitat preference, body size, and whether it flies, burrows, climbs, or runs.
“We found that less mobile, nonflying ground beetles, which are critical pest control agents, are more likely to decline over time in a warmer, dryer climate,” said Tong Qiu, assistant professor of multifunctional landscapes at Penn State, who led the study. “That means you’re going to have more pests that can impact agricultural and forest ecosystems…”
New Jersey approves pilot program to demonstrate feasibility of agrivoltaics
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has approved an agreement with the Rutgers University Agrivoltaics Program (RAP) to facilitate the development and implementation of a Dual-Use Solar Energy Pilot Program over the next three years.
The pilot program will provide incentives to solar electric generation facilities located on unpreserved farmland that plan to maintain the land’s active agricultural or horticultural use. Dual-use solar can provide farmers with an additional stream of revenue, assisting with farm financial viability enabling continued agricultural or horticultural production of land while also increasing the statewide production of clean energy…
Research report: Antibiotics and temperature interact to disrupt soil communities and nutrient cycling
Soils contain immense diversity and support terrestrial ecosystem functions, but they face both anthropogenic and environmental stressors. While many studies have examined the influence of individual stressors on soils, how these perturbations will interact to shape soil communities and their ability to cycle nutrients is far less resolved. Here, we hypothesized that when soils experience multiple stressors their ability to maintain connected and stable communities is disrupted, leading to shifts in C and N pools.
Can agriculture and solar co-exist?
As New York faces a future that includes wetter winters, and periods of more frequent droughts during the summer, farming continues to be a challenging livelihood. For many farmers looking to retire, as well as new or younger farmers, the economics of agriculture is increasingly a focal point as they plan their future. According to American Farmland Trust’s Farms Under Threat report, New York lost over a quarter million acres of farmland in sixteen years (2000 – 2016).
The loss of NY’s farmland is concerning. But imagine if farmers had an income stream that helped cover rough years caused by drought, flooding, and erratic weather. That’s part of a shift underway to rethink solar development that works for farmers and farming, rather than taking land out of production.
While I think we can all agree that no one wants to see solar panels on good farmland if it takes that farmland out of production, Farmer First Solar changes that paradigm and prioritizes designs that allow for greater farming options, increased farm viability, and soil health…
Farming with climate change in mind
“A major contributor to climate change is carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thankfully, trees, plants, and soils can draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and respirate out oxygen. (That’s one of the many reasons why we love them so much!)
“As farmers, we’re particularly focused on regenerative agriculture, and making our soils as effective as possible at storing carbon.
“At Erickson Fields, where we grow vegetables, we avoid annual row crop farming…”
Innovative AgriSolar design, a round-table discussion
Do you want to see solar that works with cows, horses, vineyards, orchards, vegetables, and other forms of agriculture? How about solar that doesn’t require perimeter fencing and is spaced apart to allow for equipment to grow crops or grow grass and hay crops?
Some of these solar designs might also work well for wildlife.
This webinar provides insights into what is already happening here in the U.S. and abroad. The solar developers show you what they are doing and how it can go to “scale.”
AgriSolar Clearinghouse hosts a webinar series with this round-table discussion featuring innovative solar designers Helical Solar, Sun Agri, Hyperion, Sandbox Solar, Solargik, RUTE Agrivoltaics, Soliculture, Stracker Solar, Taka Solar, and Sunstall.
Engage public, explore methods to secure NYS green energy
Solar-power developers need to explore using lower-quality agricultural land for solar energy, boost incentives for dual-use (combined agriculture and solar) options, avoid concentrated solar development and engage communities early to achieve New York’s green energy goals, according to forthcoming Cornell research.
“As farmland is generally flat and cleared, agricultural land will be the prime target for future solar energy development,” said Max Zhang, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, in the College of Engineering, and senior author of “Strategic Land Use Analysis for Solar Energy Development in New York State,” which will publish in August 2021 in Renewable Energy. “Good farmland, however, is not ideal.”
Made in the shade: Growing crops at solar farms yields efficiency
“There is potential for agrivoltaic systems – where agriculture and solar panels coexist – to provide increased passive cooling through taller panel heights [emphasis added], more reflective ground cover and higher evapotranspiration rates compared to traditional solar farms,” said senior author Max Zhang, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering [at Cornell], “We can generate renewable electricity and conserve farmland through agrivoltaic systems.”
In New York, for example, about 40% of utility-scale solar farm capacity has been developed on agricultural lands, while about 84% of land deemed suitable for utility-scale solar development is agricultural, according to a previous research study from Zhang’s group…
Douglas County sheep farm working to restore soil and build community, agrivoltaics
“Co-locating farming and clean energy production on agricultural land creates rural economic resiliency, provides land access for new and underserved farmers, and builds vital agricultural infrastructure. Unlocking these bottlenecks will create food security that allows small farmers to compete in a global extractive market while focusing on restorative farming practices that heal the land”…