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Climate Change & Conservation News


Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

How satellite-guided cows might save the Kansas prairie and make ranchers more money

Cattle may not boost plant biodiversity on the prairie as much as bison do, but The Nature Conservancy thinks it’s possible to manage them in ways that support healthier grassland. They are working with a Flint Hills cattle rancher near Strong City in Kansas, along with Kansas State scientists, to see how fitting a herd with GPS collars might help.

STRONG CITY, Kansas — Third-generation rancher Daniel Mushrush has 30-plus miles of barbed wire fence to tend to.

Calves wriggle beneath it. The wires get loose. Wild animals take a toll. And when streams surge after storms, rushing water often snaps sections in two.

For Mushrush and his family, the fence-mending on their Flint Hills ranch never ends. It’s inescapable.

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German Farmer
AP News | Martin Meissner

Sweet return: German farmer gets both solar power and apples

Land trusts and farmers are interested in figuring out how agrivoltaics can help increase farm and ranch viability, soil health, and water management — and allow families to remain on their farms for generations to come.

Many of the apple trees growing beneath solar panels have been producing bountiful electricity during this year’s unusually sun-rich summer, while providing the fruit below with much-needed shade.

“The idea is simple,” said Nachtwey, whose farm lies in Gelsdorf, an hour’s drive south of Cologne. “To protect the orchard, without reducing the available growing surface and in particular maintaining production. On top of that there’s the solar electricity being generated on the same land.”

Large-scale solar installations on arable land are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and North America, as farmers seek to make the most of their land and establish a second source of revenue.

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Paul Lum, California wine grape vineyard

Conquering cover crop challenges

Together, demonstration projects, research, and sharing the results as they unfold is a powerful way to increase community engagement.

Conquering Cover Crop Challenges from Coast to Coast project, funded through a CIG On-Farm Trials grant of $2.6 million, will test innovative solutions that will help overcome regional and crop-specific barriers to cover crop adoption on fifteen farms in five states and three geographic regions.

The project includes 5 years of evaluation of comprehensive soil, economic, and social factors and outcomes. Specifically, the demonstration project is…

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Judy Anderson

Healthy soil grants

Funding is increasingly available to improve farming practices, sometimes called regenerative agriculture, to help slow down climate change and improve water quality, soil health, and clean air.

Vermont farmers have an essential role to play in combating climate change. Some farming practices can trap carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere, while supporting wildlife habitat, healthier soils, and cleaner water. The challenge can be sustaining profitability while making significant changes.

Which practices are worth the investment? And how long will they take to pay off?

To answer these questions and more, we are partnering with Bio-Logical Capital and the University of Vermont on a Conservation Innovation Grant funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This five-year research project will provide direct payments to Vermont farmers who agree to implement farming practices that improve soil health

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Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network

Farmers planting green is a collaborative demonstration project, spearheaded by American Farmland Trust and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and supported by collaboration between researchers, agricultural and conservation organizations and others within the Genesee River Watershed.

The goals of the Genesee River Demonstration Farms Network are to highlight conservation systems that build soil health and benefit water quality, with on-farm research opportunities to evaluate and demonstrate conservation practices, and to quantify their economic and environmental benefits. The network serves as a platform to share technology, information and lessons learned with farmers, agribusiness, conservation agencies, landowners and the public, and to facilitate farmer-to-farmer discussions and learning opportunities related to conservation practices and their impacts.

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Ag Grower

How ‘planting green’ helps farmers gain advantage in the growing season

Land trusts and renewable energy companies can help farmers access funding for new equipment, additional plantings, and educational workshops to make cover crops affordable and enhance productivity. It's not necessarily about climate change all the time, but it does help slow down climate change when done well.

Typical cover crop management has a host of benefits. Cover crops can increase soil organic matter, slow erosion, enhance water availability, suppress weeds, help control pests and diseases, and increase soil microbial activity. These benefits can improve crop resilience to extreme weather events while minimizing off-farm losses to the environment…

Farmers planting green (a collaborative demonstration project) requires knowledge of how different factors interact, including: climate, cover crop and cash crop species, planting rate and timing, and termination timing…

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Ag Solar
Judy Anderson

Farmland preservationists, solar developers to build green energy arrays

The conservation community is realizing that solar, when designed to work with agriculture, can help keep farmers on the land, keep land in production, and increase soil health and water management. But we have to demand that this type of solar happens...

An estimated 750,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. is lost each year and “solar development if done right could potentially help” save some of that farmland, said John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to keep farmland in production.

Earlier this week, Piotti said during a webcast meeting that his group would work with two private firms, Edelen Renewables and Arcadia Solar to develop “agrivoltaic” community solar farms in a number of states including New York…

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Judy Anderson

Passage of historic Inflation Reduction Act bill supports land trust work

Research clarifies that people need to hear from those they trust. That's why it's important to talk — and write — about how climate funding will help enhance and improve peoples' lives, close to home.

The Inflation Reduction Act is landmark climate legislation that has the potential to reduce U.S. emissions by 40% by 2030, helping to reduce carbon in our atmosphere and buffering human and natural communities from the worst effects of climate change.

The IRA will fund critical Farm Bill conservation programs: land trusts and the landowners they work with will have access to an additional $1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to be allocated across four years, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program will be increased by $4.95 billion during that period.

The Conservation Stewardship Program ($3.25 billion) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program ($8.45 billion) will also receive huge investments, and there is $1 billion in technical assistance for landowners who use these programs to reduce climate-related emissions…

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Eggplant Squash Carrots
Judy Anderson

Land conservation combatting climate change

Farms and farmland can be an important part of the climate solution, but we have to understand the barriers and what's realistic. This land trust is working to find creative solutions, including supporting renewables that are compatible with farming, and tapping into federal and state funding for soil health and farming practices.

Agricultural Stewardship Association is working to position farmers and farmland as part of the climate solution. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

ASA is dedicated to helping mitigate climate change. Here’s how:

  1. We are helping farm families permanently protect the most valuable and resilient land for farming and growing food.
  2. We are educating our community about the importance of keeping land in farming and the connection with increasing resilience to a changing climate.
  3. We are partnering with other organizations to help farmers adopt soil health practices and generate renewable energy in ways that are compatible with agriculture and keep productive land in farming…
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Coastal Rivers
Nate Poole

Coastal Rivers takes leap towards carbon neutrality with solar array

I think you will appreciate the leadership of land trusts like Coastal Rivers, who are making it clear that an integrated approach to slowing down climate change, matters.

For those who braved mud or ice to stroll the slopes at Round Top Farm this winter, they may have spotted something shiny and new in the southwest field behind Darrows Barn.

As of Jan. 3, contractors with ReVision Energy completely installed eight rows of solar panels on a one-acre parcel at the farm and are in the process of finishing the wiring on the array. ReVision broke ground on the project in the fall.

Hannah McGhee, Coastal Rivers outreach and communications manager, said the location for the panels was selected for the minimal impact it would have on the visual landscape at Round Top for the public and abutters.

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