blueberries and cherries

Climate Change & Conservation News

Agriculture

Cows
iStock

Farming to mitigate the effects of climate change

Land trusts are working to help their communities understand how farming can be part of the solution.

At Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve, farmers will be using regenerative methods to help mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change. Industrial-conventional agriculture models have focused on single-crop operations that have exceeded the natural carrying capacity of the land, ruining soil, water, habitat, and air quality. Regenerative methods seek to reverse some of this damage by rebuilding degraded soils, increasing biodiversity, and creating healthy, fair, and just food systems…

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Healthy Sprout
iStock

Climate change affects soil health

Installing millions of acres of solar that are mowed like lawns, to me, is a gigantic waste. Instead, we could promote elevated solar that allows for a diversity of farming and ranching underneath and between the panels.

For too long, we’ve been saying that solar should avoid farmland, based upon soil type (meaning, avoiding lands of “prime” or “statewide” importance, etc.). Yet given that we know that climate change is stressing soils, and making farming and ranching more difficult, the question could better be framed: “How can solar (and wind) help farm and ranch viability, water retention, and soil health?”

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Solar

Agrivoltaics. An economic lifeline for American farmers?

I thought you might appreciate this very thoughtful video about the role of "agrivoltaics" in water conservation, farm viability, and economic impact.

As natural systems become more stressed by climate change and the resulting disasters and impacts, natural climate solutions become more vulnerable.

Nature needs renewables — and our collective work to reduce energy consumption — to flourish.

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Cowboys
MALT

Running on renewable energy

Given that climate change, if left unchecked, will destroy much of the lands and waters we are working to conserve, conservation groups are switching to renewable energy sources as a moral and mission-centered move. It also can save them money.

Talking about how, and why, your land trust has transitioned to renewable energy, is important. Modeling this shift is a leadership move that will inspire others to do the same. Posting it on the land trust’s website, or the energy provider’s website, so folks can find out more about it, is smart:

MALT helps preserve the rich agricultural heritage of Marin County by protecting its clean water, clear air, and open space. Climate change threatens Marin’s farming way of life. We operate on 100% renewable energy from MCE because reducing fossil fuel pollution will help our cause in the long run. MALT is proud to join a community of businesses and organizations in Marin who choose to reduce our carbon impact through MCE’s Deep Green Energy Program.

MALT is also raising the profile about the importance of “Carbon Farming“— demonstrating how they are walking the walk to make a difference in a variety of ways. Check out that information HERE.

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Living Soil
Soil Health Institute

Finding the right messengers

Climate change is threatening farm and ranch viability. Consider sharing this film on your Facebook page or encourage your land trust to feature it in their eNews. Because, as you know, "without farmers and ranchers, there isn't farmland."

This new documentary about regenerative agriculture highlights farmers and ranchers who are seeing the economic benefits of farming with soil in mind, and the climate benefits of doing so, as well.

ASA shared this on their Facebook page and linked it to their work

“Living Soil tells the story of farmers, scientists, and policymakers working to incorporate regenerative agricultural practices to benefit soil health for years to come. ASA has been offering soil health workshops for several years now…”

You can find the post here (just scroll down to August 31).

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Ethan Winter TNC

AFT welcomes solar and conservation specialist

American Farmland Trust is gearing up to find creative solutions that increase agricultural viability and slow down climate change. This work includes finding opportunities to work with solar companies, communities, and farmers in the Northeast.

American Farmland Trust welcomes Ethan Winter as the Northeast Solar Specialist. In this role, Winter will work across regional and national programs to help set and implement AFTs strategy for solar energy generation and farmland conservation. Winter joins AFT with an extensive background in solar development throughout the Northeast.

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Tree Planting
Suncommon

Restoration and solar team up

Those I know who work in the solar field are doing so because they want to make a difference. Many times that includes slowing down climate change and enhancing wildlife or farm viability. How is your local or regional land conservation group building relationships with solar companies?

For over a year now, much of the SunCommon team has been working remotely, and all-staff gatherings have been suspended. But graced with good weather and increased access to vaccines amongst [their] staff, [they] paused operations for a day to give each other the opportunity to reconnect after a year apart, provide service to our community, and expand [their] mission impact by planting carbon-sequestering trees.

Check out the projects and organizations they worked with…

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Healthy Soil
Flickr

Quantifying economic and environmental benefits of soil health

I’m so excited about the release of new American Farmland Trust research that proves soil health benefits go right to farmers’ bottom line.

Many farmers believe the scientific evidence that soil health practices improve soil and water quality. However, they are reluctant to change management techniques without knowing how much the soil health practices will cost or benefit them. So, AFT found “soil health successful farmers,” and conducted benefit-cost analyses.

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Hand On The Soil
AFT

The math is in: Soil health practices produce real return on investment

Climate change messaging focuses on shared values and providing solutions. While there is a great deal of talk about healthy soils sequestering carbon and other greenhouse gases, farm and ranch viability is central to successful agricultural climate solutions.

Our nation’s farmers and ranchers care deeply about the land. They want to use practices that improve soil health and protect water quality, like no-till or strip till, cover crops, and nutrient management.

But, farming is a business like any other. If the numbers don’t add up, it’s hard to make improvements that are good for the environment.

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Solar And Sheep
Wikimedia

How solar energy can coincide with crop and animal agriculture

We need to see clean energy as part of our conservation solution and work to authentically find ways to promote it, and not sideline it under the guise of locating it in "appropriate places." We need to promote dual-use, elevated solar that supports farm viability.

We’ve devoted millions of acres of land to growing crops and allowing farm animals to graze. Now, that land used for agriculture can have a dual purpose — to harness the sun’s rays and provide energy.

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