blueberries and cherries

Climate Change & Conservation News

Agriculture

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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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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Meat Processors
FAO

Food systems account for more than one third of global greenhouse gas emissions

"The world's food systems are responsible for more than one-third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to a pioneering new study published in Nature Food..."

Some two-thirds of the emissions from global food systems come from the land-based sector, comprising agriculture, land use and land use changes. That figure is higher for developing countries, but also declining significantly in step with decreasing deforestation and increasing downstream activities such as food processing and refrigeration.

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Melting Snow Field
Judy Anderson

Off-farm activities are a growing share of food-system greenhouse gas emissions

For many conservation organizations in the U.S., these insights are going to resonate. Now, conserving farms and ranches close to where markets are, and thus reducing transport costs, has more clarity with climate change in mind.

The research team that compiled the study consists of experts from Columbia University and NASA, several UN agencies and numerous policy-focused research centers. The open-access report, which builds on another recent data-rich food and agriculture organization of the United Nations study, offers the full spectrum of technical findings, and represents an important step for building a full database…

One emergent theme is that optimal greenhouse gas mitigation strategies require a focus on activities before and after farm production, ranging from the industrial production of fertilizers to refrigeration at the retail level, as this is the area where emissions are growing fastest — due in part to a slowdown in deforestation…

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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…

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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.

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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…

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