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As climate shifts, species will need to relocate, and people may have to help them

Land conservationists talk a lot about native species, and require native species as part of their conservation efforts. But what is native in a shifting climate? How might this perspective and language need to change?

Climate change is already affecting plants and animals worldwide and is a growing threat to biodiversity, adding a new layer to the existing challenges of habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, and overexploitation. A new study surveyed the recommendations of scientists for managing biodiversity in the face of climate change, providing a summary of practical guidance and identifying areas in need of further research…

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Agrivoltaics Screen Shot

Sustainable farm agrivoltaic project

This research provides clarity on how solar and farming can work together to improve soil health, water management, and enhanced solar energy production.

Solar panels can be positioned to allow plants just the right amount of sunlight, and then the excess sunlight can be harvested for electricity — and produce more than they would without crops below them.

That’s right. Plants help keep the solar panels cool, which makes them more productive. Our studies have shown that panels positioned above plants produce up to 10% more electricity.

Agrivoltaics is a symbiotic relationship where both the solar panels and the crops benefit because they help each other perform better.

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Climate change affects bird nesting phenology

This new analysis published in the Journal of Animal Ecology shows that the average egg-laying dates have moved up by nearly a month for 72 species of birds in the Upper Midwest region...

Global climate change impacts species and ecosystems in potentially harmful ways. For migratory bird species, earlier spring warm-up could lead to a mismatch between nesting activities and food availability. CO2 provides a useful proxy for temperature and an environmental indicator of climate change when temperature data are not available for an entire time series…

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

Birds are laying their eggs a month earlier, and climate change is to blame

When nesting, hatching, food availability, and temperatures get out of sync, bird survival becomes more at risk.

A new analysis published in the Journal of Animal Ecology shows that the average egg-laying dates have moved up by nearly a month for 72 species of birds in the Upper Midwest region…

The animals studied aren’t just early birds: they are sensitive to climactic shifts. The researchers found that small changes in temperature — approximated using carbon-dioxide data from over the years — affected birds’ laying patterns…

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Judy Anderson

Carbon dioxide levels are the highest in human history

Climate change won't slow down until we, as land conservationists, help communities move towards compatible renewables, greater energy conservation, and increase the push for natural climate solutions. It's going to take all three, so it's time we start talking about solutions that address them.

Humans pumped 36 billion tons of planet-warming gas into the atmosphere in 2021, more than in any previous year. It comes from burning oil, gas, and coal. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any time in at least 4 million years, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said…

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Cover crops not enough to improve soil after decades of continuous corn

While this study focuses on the Midwest, the data is transferable to other regions of the country. This is important research when we advocate for climate-smart farming (also called regenerative agriculture). It also helps rethink how we, as a country, have thousands of acres under corn for ethanol production (which is not good for climate in a lot of ways).

Although about 20% of Illinois cropping systems are planted with continuous corn, it’s nearly impossible to find fields planted this way for decades at a time. Yet long-term experiments like one at the University of Illinois, including over 40 years of continuous corn under different nitrogen fertilizer rates, provide incredible learning opportunities and soil management lessons for researchers and farmers alike…

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A review of invasive species reporting apps for citizen science and opportunities for innovation

The Northwest Climate Adaption Center provides reliable and interesting information related to climate change impacts and solutions. This is a scientific article they posted that might be of interest.

While more reporting apps are developed each year, innovation across diverse functionalities and data management in this field are occurring separately and simultaneously amongst numerous research groups with little attention to trends, priorities, and opportunities for improvement.

This creates the risk of duplication of effort and missed opportunities for implementing new and existing functionalities that would directly benefit IAS research and management…

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USDA offers expanded conservation program opportunities to support climate smart agriculture in 2022

The USDA’s goal is to expand cover crops to 30 million acres by 2030, effectively doubling the amount in the ground currently.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing several new and expanded opportunities for climate smart agriculture in 2022. Updates include nationwide availability of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Conservation Incentive Contracts option, a new and streamlined EQIP Cover Crop Initiative, and added flexibilities for producers to easily re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

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Dust Storm

A wild, windy spring is creating a soil erosion nightmare for farmers

It's a concerning situation. We might want to also start thinking about elevated solar that helps with cover crops, soil health, and water management. We need leadership in that area. So far, there isn't a push to help farmers tap into elevated solar as a farm viability tool.

Dust storms fueled by climate change, tillage, and drought are causing the loss of tons of topsoil throughout the Great Plains. Cover crop adoption, however, in most states hovers between 3 and 5 percent, says Webster. The USDA’s goal is to expand cover crops to 30 million acres by 2030, effectively doubling the amount in the ground currently.

Bukowski suggests farmers should adopt cover crops sooner rather than later, while it’s still an option. “At some point, we may not have enough precipitation for cover crops,” she says. “We do have a choice. Are we going to rise to the occasion in terms of climate, water resource management, and good farming practices — or are we not?” she asks…

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Fall Scene

Carbon offsets, illustrated

Authentic carbon offsets require going beyond what trees, wetlands, prairies, and farmlands are already doing. That means either managing the land differently or ensuring that unprotected land is conserved and managed to be part of the solution.

The Nature Conservancy has provided a brief guide to one of the climate solutions we need in order to achieve a low-carbon future, faster: natural climate solutions.

They note that we need to cut emissions from fossil fuels and reduce excess carbon dioxide and other planet-warming gases soon, to avoid the worst of the climate change impacts. This might be something you could share with those who are interested in authentic carbon offsets.

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