blueberries and cherries

Climate Change & Conservation News

Agriculture

Cable Solar
Rute Foundation

Agrivoltaic solar tracker uses cables instead of buried steel

As extreme weather (including drought) stresses agriculture, the shade from well-designed solar panels may provide a respite that in the past might have been seen as an unwanted barrier. Cable, rather than posts as shown below, may allow for additional flexibility with farm use and reduce installation expenses.

The Suntracker system is suspended by cables, rather than mounted on steel driven into the ground, providing what the company says is the lowest levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for high-clearance solar. Rute reports that by using cables rather than steel foundations, steel use is reduced by as much as 30%.

Another advantage of the cable system is that the land does not have to be disturbed in order to install the system, which is a benefit in the agricultural industry. It also enables the land to be returned to its original condition in the event that the solar installation were to be removed…

Read More »
Agrivoltaics
Judy Anderson

Massachusetts Clean Energy Act eases path for agrivoltaic projects

You might consider sharing this at the local, regional, or state level to inspire policies that support farm viability, soil health, and keeping farmers on the land.

The Act clarifies that an agrivoltaic project is to be treated as an agricultural use, meaning that the land can continue to be classified as agricultural land for property tax purposes and that the project is exempt from special permit requirements.

This change in law further illustrates the legislature’s intent to help farmers continue their farming operations by utilizing renewable energy, and particularly solar energy, as a means of maintaining their land in agricultural use.

Read More »
Pump Jack
Pixabay

Keeping cattle on the move and carbon in the soil

Farmers and ranchers have depended on a relatively stable climate for generations. That's no longer possible. Conserving the land won't ensure that agriculture survives, and farmers know it. We can help.

The Obrechts stand at the forefront of an emerging collaboration between ranchers, conservation groups, and governmental agencies that aims to protect, restore, and revitalize the United States and Canada’s prairies — or what’s left of them…

Researchers estimate that grasslands could contain as much as 30 percent of the carbon stored in the Earth’s soil. Plowing them in order to plant crops releases large amounts of that carbon into the atmosphere…

Read More »
Hay Solar
Judy Anderson

Solar, haying, and owning the solar array

As extreme weather (including drought) stresses agriculture, the shade from well-designed solar panels may provide a respite that in the past might have been seen as an unwanted barrier.

Converting arable land to energy production undermines the future of farming. But innovators like Nate know it doesn’t have to be one or the other – if done right, solar can be leveraged to support farmers, rather than threaten them.

Seeing the Massachusetts SMART program as an opportunity for revenue diversification and farmland preservation, Nate pioneered a plan to own both the solar system and the land underneath. Million Little Sunbeams does not involve a lease to a solar developer but instead was designed to allow the Tassinari family to sell the excess energy to the surrounding community — a win for the family farm that has allowed it to stay in operation…

Read More »
Horses
Pixnio

Advancing sustainable meat production through policy reform and carbon offset funding

Research is happening all over the country around regenerative agriculture. This website has great information; just use the menu bar to access resources like maps, data, and soil information.

Regenerative Grazing NC is a multi-year, student-led project to increase the adoption of regenerative grazing systems in North Carolina. We believe that regenerative grazing is the key to sustainable meat production in a climate-constrained world. Changing food systems is a tremendously complex undertaking and our community partners are doing amazing work advocating policy, providing extension support, conducting research, and developing robust supply chains to connect producers with consumers.

Read More »
Cows
Pixabay

Regenerative grazing to mitigate climate change

Research is happening all over the country around regenerative agriculture. Check out the links in this article from Duke University.

Working with numerous partner organizations, team members from the four major Triangle research universities (Duke, NC Central, NC State, UNC) developed healthy soils policy recommendations for North Carolina, as well as tools to help producers and policy-makers understand the potential of grazing

Read More »
Agrisolar
Iberdrola

Iberdrola starts up Spain’s first smart agrovoltaic plant in Toledo

We need to help municipalities and our respective states prioritize solar companies who want to install agrivoltaics can compete with traditional ground-mounted solar. We need the U.S. to up the vision of what could happen here.

While combining solar energy and agricultural land is not new, one component that makes the Winesolar project stand out is that it will have a tracking system, with trackers from PVH, that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the most efficient solar panel positioning over the vines at any time…

Read More »
Vineyard
Pixabay

Spanish vineyards use solar panels to protect wine grapes

The Inflation Reduction Act is a game-changer when it comes to funding for solar. The question is, will the U.S. solar industry be asked to move towards more compatible solar with agricultural lands? We need to help municipalities and our respective states prioritize the change and ensure solar companies who want to install agrivoltaics can compete with traditional ground-mounted solar. We know how to make it work. It's not new, and it's happening all over the world. We need the U.S. to up the vision of what could happen here.

While combining solar energy and agricultural land is not new, one component that makes the Winesolar project stand out is that it will have a tracking system, with trackers from PVH, that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the most efficient solar panel positioning over the vines at any time, according to Iberdrola. Techedge, an IT firm, will help the solar panel project further the wineries’ agricultural goals.

Sensors in the vineyards will record data including soil humidity, wind conditions, solar radiation, and even vine thickness to find the optimal position for the solar panels, giving the vines a fighting chance against the effects of climate change…

Read More »
Farmer
Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

Three-quarters of Montana farmers, ranchers anxious about climate change, survey finds

Farmers and ranchers have depended on a relatively stable climate for generations. That's no longer possible. Conserving the land won't ensure agriculture survives, and farmers know it. We can help.

Paul Lachapelle of Montana State University says the growing risks and uncertainty are taking a toll on farmers’ and ranchers’ mental health.

He and co-researchers surveyed about 120 Montana farmers and ranchers.

“Nearly three quarters noted they were experiencing moderate to high levels of anxiety when thinking about climate change and its effects on their agricultural business,” Lachapelle says.

Read More »
Barn
Pixnio

How the Inflation Reduction Act helps rural communities

Farmers, healthy soils, and regenerative agriculture are now widely seen as part of the climate solution, with funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act (scroll down if you click on the link).

The Inflation Reduction Act recognizes the critical role that America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners play in addressing the climate crisis. The law will:

  • Invest in helping farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners deploy climate-smart practices that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase storage of carbon in soils and trees, and make their operations more productive.
  • Support innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify climate benefits, including through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and Conservation Technical Assistance.
  • Help up to 280,000 farmers and ranchers apply conservation to approximately 125 million acres of land.
Read More »