blueberries and cherries

Climate Change & Conservation News

Agriculture

Solar Grazing Map
OnPasture

Solar grazing: A new income stream for livestock producers

We are going to need renewables at a large scale in the U.S. — and soon. Rather than wipe out forests, we could encourage solar that works with farmland. We need conservationists to help make this a reality. You can share these articles to let people know that dual-use solar can help farmland and farmers.

Utility-scale solar arrays may cover 3 million acres across the U.S. by 2030, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). This is causing tension with farmers and farmland advocates, as the panels are often sited on good agricultural land, displacing current production.

One solution is to restrict solar developments from being installed on farmland. But there are other solutions worth pursuing, too. Most large-scale solar arrays are located in rural areas where economies are hurting and farmer numbers are dwindling…

Read More »
Butterflies
Yichuan Cao/Nur Photo/Getty Images

Biden enlists ranchers, tribes (and land trusts) to conserve 30% of land and water

There's a misinformation campaign ramping up, and we need your help to put it to rest. Please share articles that depict the truth about the 30 x 30 campaign, here in the U.S. It's not a land-grab. It's not all public land. It's not going to wipe out communities. Just the opposite. The vision is collaborative, voluntary, and inclusive.

The Biden administration is unveiling a plan to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by the end of the decade, a top priority for environmentalists who see the initiative as a way to fight climate change and safeguard species on the brink of extinction.

“The conservation value of a particular place should not be measured solely in biological terms, but also by its capacity to purify drinking water, to cool the air for a nearby neighborhood,” or “to provide a safe outdoor escape for a community that is park-deprived,” the report says.

Read More »
Sheep For Solar

How to have your solar farm and keep your regular farm, too

We are losing farmland at an alarming rate, as noted by American Farmland Trust. Dual-use, or "compatible solar", depending on how it is designed, could help provide needed farm income AND improve soil health, sequester carbon, and diversify the operation over time. You can help promote dual-use and counter what is becoming more of a "not in my backyard" response. Solar can't just go on rooftops and parking lots and dumps. It's going to have to also go on open land. So, rather than cutting down forests, let's ensure solar installations are working with agriculture.

You may appreciate this short news clip from NPR

Clean, abundant solar power comes with a price. It requires lots of land, and in some places that’s provoking opposition from people who want to preserve farmland.

In southern New Jersey, for instance, a company called Dakota Power Partners wants to build an 800-acre solar power station, and the Pilesgrove Township planning board is hearing from local citizens who don’t like it one bit…

Read More »
Cow
Judy Anderson

She’s driven by soil health and pasture management

Regenerative agriculture, including rotational grazing, is increasingly seen as part of the climate solution and natural ecosystem restoration strategy. This is the sort of article you could share to help your readers understand how farmers and ranchers are working towards similar goals.

Looking out over the tidy farmstead in a valley below, Franceus talks about the ranch. Her parents bought the land in the early 1960s. “My mom sold a quarter of land in Illinois in order to purchase this place,” she says.

“It was predominantly covered in native grasses. My dad planted a pasture to crested wheat grass so that it would have some cool-season grasses for grazing. And now years later we are predominantly brome and bluegrass, which are cool-season grasses. Our biggest conservation challenge now is limiting the invasive cool-season grasses — the introduced species — and try and bring back the native grasses.”

Read More »
Girls Digging
Walton LaVonda, USFWS

Report: Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful

“A preliminary report to the National Climate Task Force recommending a ten-year, locally led campaign to conserve and protect the lands and waters upon which we all depend, and that bind us together as Americans.”

Read More »
Agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics works better with leafy greens, root crops

People want clean energy. Businesses want clean energy. Yet, where is it going to go? And how can it enhance farming and ranching, and not detract from it? Solar can enhance agricultural viability—but you need to spread the word and demand that your state, and the federal government, provide the incentives needed. It's a smart policy decision given the shocking loss of farms and ranches already underway.

[Solar] projects linked to agriculture have thus far shown the highest potential when combined with leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach, as well as with root crops such as potatoes, radishes, beets, and carrots. This is one of the conclusions of recent research developed on agrivoltaics by U.S. scientist Chad Higgins from the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering at Oregon State University…

Read More »
Grain Strorage
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

New problems arise for crop storage as planet gets warmer

Helping people understand the impacts of climate change on agriculture is important if we are going to prioritize solutions, including soil health, agricultural viability, and renewable energy that are compatible. When we think about farm and ranchland viability, climate change is going to be an increased stressor.

“There’s a big disconnect in our minds about the chain of events between the field and the grocery store and onto our plate,” [plant physiology scientist Courtney Leisner at Auburn University] said. “Just a few degrees can make all the difference in whether it’s economical to store the fruits and vegetables that we expect to have on our dinner table 365 days a year.”

Aside from potentially higher prices, climate change may worsen food shortages caused by spoilage. About 14% of food produced globally—and 20% of fruits and vegetables—goes bad between harvest and retail, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Wasted food is a significant source of greenhouse gases…

Read More »
Sheep Under Solar Panels
American Solar Grazing Association

A new vision for farming: chickens, sheep, and…solar panels

We are losing farms and ranches at an alarming rate. What if compatible solar was part of the economic strategy to keep family farms and ranches viable, and pass them on to future generations? We have the technology. We just need the community will to make it happen.

Agrivoltaics doesn’t just include chickens. Other livestock can also roam around solar panels, and some researchers are experimenting with planting crops, too.

Animals that graze around solar fields offer several benefits, proponents of agrivoltaics say. Not only does their manure enrich the soil, their munching keeps plants from growing too tall and shading the panels. Another win: they lower vegetation maintenance costs, reducing the need for lawn mowers or landscapers…

Read More »
Sheep Farm
Civil Eats

Maine farmers struggle with new, harsher climate reality

Helping people understand the impacts of climate change on agriculture is important if we are going to prioritize solutions, including soil health, agricultural viability, and renewable energy that is compatible with agriculture. The Northeast is warming faster than any other region in the contiguous U.S., which means longer, drier summers—punctuated by more intense bouts of precipitation.

Tom Drew thought he’d seen it all. A dairy farmer of 30 years in Woodland, Maine, Drew has weathered an awful lot of change. On an overcast, chilly day last fall, he rested in his milking parlor.

As he leaned his large frame on the metal table, he recounted the history of the farm, his family’s attachment to the old jack pines out front. Like many small and medium-scale dairy farmers, remaining profitable is a challenge for Drew, and every day feels uncertain…

Read More »
Solar And Kale
NREL

Benefits of agrivoltaics across food, water, energy sectors

Food and energy security need not be competing objectives. In fact, taking a holistic, integrated approach to food-energy-water decision making can increase resiliency of both food and energy systems…

Read More »