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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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Beer With Hazy Background
Big Hospitality

Adapting agriculture to climate change

“The strong trends in climate change already evident, the likelihood of further changes occurring, and the increasing scale of potential climate impacts give urgency to addressing agricultural adaptation more coherently. There are many potential adaptation options available for marginal change of existing agricultural systems, often variations of existing climate risk management. We show that implementation of these options is likely to have substantial benefits under moderate climate change for some cropping systems. However, there are limits to their effectiveness under more severe climate changes. Hence, more systemic changes in resource allocation need to be considered, such as targeted diversification of production systems and livelihoods…”

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Beer Cheers

Decreases in global beer supply due to extreme drought and heat

“Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world by volume consumed, and yields of its main ingredient, barley, decline sharply in periods of extreme drought and heat. Although the frequency and severity of drought and heat extremes increase substantially in range of future climate scenarios by five Earth System Models, the vulnerability of beer supply to such extremes has never been assessed. We couple a process-based crop model (decision support system for agrotechnology transfer) and a global economic model (Global Trade Analysis Project model) to evaluate the effects of concurrent drought and heat extremes projected under a range of future climate scenarios. We find that these extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide…”

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Foamy Beer
Getty Images

Don’t save the planet for the planet. Do it for beer.

Your climate communications don’t always have to be serious to make an impression. You want to find shared values that connect with your audience. Take this story, for example, that starts off with this:

“Worst case? If people don’t stop burning so much carbon-based fossil fuel and emitting greenhouse gases, world beer consumption could drop by 16 percent, and the price of a beer worldwide could double…

Climate change stands to alter the way humans farm every plant we eat and every plant we feed to the animals we eat. If you’re sure you’re gonna want another beer? Now’s a good time to think about saving the world…”

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Agriculture Two Kinds
National Climate Assessment

Fourth National Climate Assessment: Chapter 21: The Midwest

“The Midwest is a major producer of a wide range of food and animal feed for national consumption and international trade. Increases in warm-season absolute humidity and precipitation have eroded soils, created favorable conditions for pests and pathogens, and degraded the quality of stored grain. Projected changes in precipitation, coupled with rising extreme temperatures before mid-century, will reduce Midwest agricultural productivity to levels of the 1980s without major technological advances…”

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Solar Panels In Field
Judy Anderson

The next money crop for farmers: Solar panels

Farmers are facing increased stress from a variety of factors, including extreme weather, and suicide rates are climbing. It's time to consider how renewable energy can keep farming families on the land and lower their stress. Land conservation takes a long-term view, and now it needs to include the viability of farms in the face of climate change.

“There’s enough energy produced to run the whole complex,” said DeBaillie, 50, who farms 6,500 acres with his brother and cousin. They typically grow corn and soybeans each spring, but this year they want to put more solar panels on 15 acres—and sell the energy.

The earnings, he said, would be about three times what an average harvest would yield there.

According to the federal government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in November, more extreme high temperatures plus increased humidity and precipitation could mean more pests and pathogens on farms throughout the Midwest in the coming decades. Productivity could drop to levels not seen since the 1980s, the report warned…

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The Suicide Rate Of US Farmers Has Reached An Alarming Levels
Scott Olson/Getty Images

CDC: Farmers are committing suicide at 5 times the rate of the rest of the population

“Farmers in the US are facing a myriad of challenges these days, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report showing that such stress is taking a deadly toll.

While the suicide rates of Americans in all demographics have been on the rise over the last 30 years, farmers have the highest rate of suicide than any other occupation — five times that of the rest of the US population…”

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Young Farmers
National Young Farmers Coalition video screen capture

Climate change makes farming harder

Climate change is increasing a risk to farm and ranch survival, given extreme weather, blights, water challenges, and changes in soil. That’s one of the reasons why farmers are embracing renewable energy to help buffer potential losses and help restore the land.

The Young Farmers Coalition speaks here with Yale Climate Connections about what this means to young farmers. This could be something you could share with folks who care about farming and farmers, with a link to how they can slow down climate change. This is short—probably even too short—but it’s a good snippet.

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NREL Scientist Jordan Macknick And Jake Janski By Solar Panels
Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Solar farms shine a ray of hope on bees and butterflies

The tidy rows of gleaming solar panels at Pine Gate Renewables facility in southwestern Oregon originally sat amidst the squat grasses of a former cattle pasture. But in 2017 the company started sowing the 41-acre site with a colorful riot of native wildflowers.

The shift was not merely aesthetic; similar projects at a growing number of solar farms around the country aim to help reverse the worrying declines in bees, butterflies, and other key pollinating species observed in recent years…

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Handful Of Top Soil
Civil Eats

Carbon farming works. What is it? Can your land trust promote it?

Farming and ranching can help slow down climate change – but it will take significant changes for many to make that happen.

The first step is to understand what carbon farming is. The second step is to make it happen…

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