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Solar Farm With Flowers
Hyperion Systems LLC

Michigan to Allow Commercial Solar Panels on Conserved Farmland

“This administrative decision will not result in a loss of useable farmland,” MDARD Director Gary McDowell said in a statement. “The change ensures that Michigan’s farmland is preserved so we can continue to feed our communities while also balancing the need to develop renewable energy sources. This is an exciting new opportunity for Michigan’s farmers to diversify while they continue to face challenging circumstances.”

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Beets And Chard
Judy Anderson

High CO2 Levels Will Wreck Plants’ Nutritional Value, so Don’t Plan on Surviving on Vegetables

“Our emission of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels is reducing the nutritional quality of our food,” says Kristie Ebi, the University of Washington professor who was the lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) blockbuster report last fall on the need to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Ebi directly refuted an idea that’s been floating around for a while about the effect of CO2 on food production and global hunger. Technically, plants need CO2 to survive: they bring it in, break it down, and rely on carbon to grow…

“It’s not just us,” Ebi says. Animals like cows that rely on grains and plants for their diet produce meat and milk that contain fewer nutrients and vitamins, and people who eat meat take in fewer of those crucial resources…

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Midwest Farmer In Field With Red Hat
Amy Kontras/The Guardian

As climate change bites in America’s midwest, farmers are desperate to ring the alarm

“Richard Oswald did not need the latest US government report on the creeping toll of climate change to tell him that farming in the midwest is facing a grim future, and very likely changing forever.

For Oswald, the moment of realisation came in 2011.

The 68-year-old lives in the house he was born in and farms 2,500 acres with his son, some of it settled by his great-great-grandfather. The land sits where the Missouri river valley is about four miles wide.

Growing up, Oswald heard tales of a great flood in 1952 which prompted the army to construct levees…”

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Silos In Midwest Flooding
Hilary Swift/The New York Times

The Midwest flooding has killed livestock, ruined harvests and has farmers worried for their future

(CNN)Farmers in parts of Nebraska and Iowa had precious little time to move themselves from the floodwaters that rushed over their lands last week, so many left their livestock and last year’s harvest behind.

Now as they watch the new lakes that overtook their property slowly recede, some have a painfully long time to reflect: They lost so much, staying in business will be a mighty struggle.

Across parts of the Midwest, hundreds of livestock are drowned or stranded; valuable unsold, stored grain is ruined in submerged storage bins; and fields are like lakes, casting doubt on whether they can be planted this year.

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Farm Soil
Maureen Knapp

Farm Bureau Shows Little Concern About Climate Change Agricultural Effects

Working at the local level will make a difference.

Those of us who don’t grow our own food may lose sight of how much risk is involved in agriculture. But the recent floods in the Midwest are a startling reminder that farming can be a precarious occupation because of climate change, with its unpredictable and sometimes downright wild weather.

Not enough water or far too much; sweltering days or frigid ones; and unexpected shifts in the timing of all these things can put farmers in trouble. As the headline of a worthwhile overview story in The Guardian puts it, “As Climate Change Bites in America’s Midwest, Farmers are Desperate to Ring the Alarm.”

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Potato Farming From The Top

Soil champions: farmers lead

American Farmland Trust is spreading the word. Could you share this? Or create your own version with local farmers?

Farmers take risks all year long and with climate change, those risks are growing with extreme and unpredictable weather. Yet we know from research that soils can and do impact how fast climate change will accelerate—or slow down.

American Farmland Trust, in partnership with farmers and partners, is ramping up its communications efforts to support farmers in this transition. Check out this short video where the farmers of Long Island, NY, talk about the changes they have made, and why.

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Pond Scene
Judy Anderson

Taking steps to “walk the walk”: Peconic Land Trust makes changes

They've also spent some time looking at their internal operations to identify where small changes could make an impact. If your local land trust is looking for ideas on where to start, this might be an interesting list to consider...

Peconic Land Trust’s (PLT) values and goals reflect their organization’s desire to protect their environment and appreciate the natural resources of Long Island, New York. Over the last several years, PLT has taken steps to minimize their carbon footprint by making their offices more efficient and by integrating “green principles” throughout the organization.

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Bee On Aster
Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Highly compatible: pollinator-friendly solar projects and farming

This might be good to share on your social media feed.

Taking farmland out of production to increase harvests might seem counterintuitive. But new and ongoing research suggests that trading some farmland for deep-rooted prairie vegetation can provide habitat for wild insect pollinators and boost overall crop yields.

Increasingly popular pollinator-friendly solar projects, which cultivate low-growing meadows underneath the panels, present an opportunity to increase food production and clean energy generation at once. For a state like Minnesota, where farming is prevalent and the solar industry is expanding, this kind of compatibility between agriculture and solar energy production is a most welcome development…

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Agrivoltaics
Hyperion Systems

Agrivoltaics: Solar panels on farms could be a win-win

Many local food advocates argue that an inadequate portion of the food consumed in Massachusetts is grown there. The short growing season along with high costs for labor and land can make farming in Massachusetts a financially precarious proposition.

Some advocates say that dual-use solar installations have the potential to ease a number of these problems at once…

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An Animal Farm Covered With Silicon Solar Panels Is Seen In Hohhot
Muyu Xu/Reuters

Energy and food together: Under solar panels, crops thrive

Is your local conservation organization rethinking what it means to conserve land? Farmers need the income, we need both food and a stable climate; land conservation needs to adjust. The good news is that some land trusts are doing just that.

At a recent solar energy conference in Minneapolis, attendees unwound at happy hour, tasting free pints of a local honey-based India pale ale called “Solarama Crush.” Minnesota-based 56 Brewing makes the smooth IPA using honey from hives located on solar farms outside the Twin Cities.

Honey producers Travis and Chiara Bolton keep bees at three solar farms where developers seeded native plants underneath and around panels. “The advantage to these sites is that they are intentionally planted for pollinators,” says Travis Bolton. “At these sites, they’re really trying to get them back to a native prairie, and that’s a benefit to us…”

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