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Climate Change & Conservation News

Agriculture

Solar Farm Screenshot
video screenshot

Solar installation—Matsuda Farm

Local land trust's projects and creative solutions to climate change speak volumes about how they see their role in the climate crisis.

Does your land trust have an opportunity to install solar on its lands as part of an overall project, and education strategy?

The Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust is passionate about conserving land to protect the natural ecosystems and rural character of their islands amidst today’s rampant development. They created a video to talk about a solar installation on a farm they own and how it relates to their conservation goals.

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Solar And Ranchers
Dennis Schroeder/NREL

Beneath solar panels, the seeds of opportunity sprout

“On a humid, overcast day in central Minnesota, a dozen researchers crouch in the grass between rows of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Only their bright yellow hard hats are clearly visible above the tall, nearly overgrown prarie grasses—which are growing exactly as expected.

Bent over white, square frames, some of the researchers catalog the number and type of native plants growing on a square foot of land. Others press double-forked meters into the ground, measuring the soil moisture below the solar panels and in open ground. Nearby, beekeepers check on the health of local hives.

Their research is part of an ongoing study to quantify the benefits of a new approach to solar installations: low-impact solar development…”

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Many Solar Panels
Creative Commons

Panel discussion: Integrated Energy Research on Agriculture & Water Challenges

Check out these slides from this detailed panel hosted by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis just a few weeks ago…

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Solar Farmer And Kale
DENNIS SCHROEDER/NREL

Can farmland fix solar power’s real estate problem?

“The farmers we work with are facing the reality of not wanting to sell their farms, but they have a developer knocking on the door...There’s an opportunity to leverage [agrivoltaics] so we can do [elevated] ground-mounted solar without taking any farmland off the table..."

Rooftop panels are great, but there just isn’t enough viable rooftop space for solar to take a meaningful bite out of carbon emissions in the US. For that, the country needs utility-scale solar farms, which can take up a lot of space—they could occupy an area the size of Connecticut by 2030, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

There needn’t be a trade-off between crops and electrons, [Chad] Higgins said; they can grow in tandem. Elevated solar panels installed above crops (so-called “agrivoltaics”) can provide an extra income stream for farmers if they lease the space for them to solar companies. And they can yield benefits for the farm itself: the shade can actually boost the yield of vegetables, decrease water consumption, and preserve the ability of soil to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, according to an ongoing National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study. The study’s pilot sites have also found ways to combine solar with cattle and goat grazing, as well as apiaries for bees…

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Ranchers And Cattle
Michael Woolsey

Saving Land magazine: Looking to the land to mitigate climate change

This article is from a 2018 issue of Saving Land magazine, a publication of the Land Trust Alliance. The topic is gaining even more traction today...

Recent reports that the planet had its hottest four years on record highlight the need for accelerated work to keep global warming below critical tipping points. While nations shift to carbon-neutral economies, Earth’s forests, grasslands, wetlands and soils can help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. “Land trust work is more vital than ever,” says Kelly Watkinson, Land and Climate Program manager at the Land Trust Alliance, “because improved conservation, restoration and land management actions enhance the capacity of natural systems to absorb and hold carbon.”

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grasses-and-pond-at-dusk
Judy Anderson

Looking to land to mitigate climate change

Two [fairly] recent studies affirm the potential of natural ecosystems to scale back atmospheric CO2. New research published in Nature this January cites the “unexpectedly large impact” that forest management and grazing has on the planet and atmospheric carbon. “We have forgotten half of the story up to now,” lead study author Karl-Heinz Erb told The Washington Post…

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Grazing Cattle
Triangle Land Conservancy

Farming to mitigate the effects of climate change

Is your local land trust able to support and elevate research opportunities around climate solutions between farmers/ranchers and other groups? These are the sorts of articles your local land trust might be able to share—and help show how they are working on this very issue.

Land trusts are increasingly talking about how managing soil carbon can boost production, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and increase water quality. If your land trust works in farm or ranchland protection, having conversations with farmers and ranchers around their management strategies for climate change—and the bottom line—can be very compelling.

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Hudson Carbon

A new marketplace for carbon capture

Hudson Carbon is an on-farm soil laboratory. We study how organic regenerative farming can maximize carbon capture and restore ecosystems.

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Young Farmers
MARTIN ADOLFSSON

Farmers on the front lines of climate change

Is your local land trust able to support and elevate research opportunities around climate solutions between farmers/ranchers and other groups? These projects show examples of people taking initiative. Check out this one, and see what might work in your area.

Housed at Stone House Farm in Columbia County, NY, Hudson Carbon is emerging as one of the most ambitious testing grounds for carbon farming in the country. Soon to launch an e-commerce carbon offset market—with Stone House as its pilot—Hudson Carbon’s ultimate goal is to enable regional farmers to receive just compensation, not only for carbon sequestration practices, but for a full range of ecosystem services.

It employed a set of complementary regenerative agriculture practices with the goals of reducing tillage; maximizing soil cover to enhance photosynthesis; increasing beneficial insects, plant, and microbial biodiversity; improving nutrient cycling; increasing water efficiency and infiltration; integrating pastured animals; and increasing carbon stock above the soil level through agroforestry techniques…

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tulips
Creative Commons

Cultivating communities where people and nature thrive together

This is an interesting organization that is using an integrated farm project as a tool for change and action. Land trusts across the country could emulate and incorporate some of these ideas into their partnerships and land conservation strategies.

The Community Ecology Institute (CEI’)s Climate of Hope project includes three innovation areas, described below: 1) Climate Aware Agriculture featuring Renewable Energy Integration; 2) Cultivating Climate Victory Gardens; and 3) Community Climate Change Education…

Climate of Hope will offer accessible, science-based, action-focused climate change education for the community. [They] offer eight community events at [their] farm on a range of topics from climate victory gardening (and the associated carbon-capturing practices), to composting, energy efficiency, community solar, and more.

[They] also offer customized offsite presentations to eight diverse community organizations including HOAs, faith organizations, school groups, and businesses. These events will be designed to inspire participants and provide strategies and tools for sustained positive climate action.

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