Alley cropping case studies in Appalachia
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) describes alley cropping as having several conservation purposes, including reducing surface water runoff and erosion, improving soil health, altering subsurface water quantity or water table depths, enhancing wildlife and beneficial insect habitat, increasing crop diversity, and increasing carbon storage.
Much like agrivoltaics with crops and/or cattle, the combined farming practice can increase overall yields and benefits. Plus, funding may be available. The case study focuses on Appalachia but could be emulated elsewhere.
New York City’s greenery absorbs a surprising amount of its carbon emissions
A study of vegetation across New York City and some densely populated adjoining areas has found that on many summer days, photosynthesis by trees and grasses absorbs all the carbon emissions produced by cars, trucks and buses, and then some. The surprising result, based on new hyper-local vegetation maps, points to the underappreciated importance of urban greenery in the carbon cycle…
Low salt marsh habitats release more carbon in response to warming, a new study finds
Salt marshes, excellent reservoirs of carbon, are living ecosystems with vegetation and microscopic organisms that live, breathe, poop, and die in the marsh mud.
“This is a place where you could get the biggest bang for your buck, if you will, if you’re interested in trying to invest some resources in sequestering carbon using biological systems,” said Serena Moseman-Valtierra, an associate professor of biological science at the University of Rhode Island.
Yet as temperatures rise, marshes at the lowest elevations may also be significant emitters of carbon…
Scientists sound alarm as ocean temperatures hit new record
The world’s oceans, which have absorbed most of the excess heat caused by humanity’s carbon pollution, continued to see record-breaking temperatures last year, according to research published Wednesday.
Climate change has increased surface temperatures across the planet, leading to atmospheric instability and amplifying extreme weather events such as storms…
Ancient grasslands guide ambitious goals in grassland restoration
Grasslands, which constitute almost 40% of the terrestrial biosphere, provide habitat for a great diversity of animals and plants and contribute to the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people worldwide. Whereas the destruction and degradation of grasslands can occur rapidly, recent work indicates that complete recovery of biodiversity and essential functions occurs slowly or not at all. Grassland restoration—interventions to speed or guide this recovery—has received less attention than restoration of forested ecosystems, often due to the prevailing assumption that grasslands are recently formed habitats that can reassemble quickly. Viewing grassland restoration as long-term assembly toward old-growth endpoints, with appreciation of feedbacks and threshold shifts, will be crucial for recognizing when and how restoration can guide recovery of this globally important ecosystem.
Oft-overlooked grasslands build biodiversity, resilience over centuries
Grasslands’ biodiversity and resilience to disturbances such as fire, heat, and drought is the result of a slow process over hundreds of years, like that of old-growth forests, finds new CU Boulder-led research.
Published in the journal Science on August 5, 2022 as part of a special issue on grasslands, the study contradicts years of assumptions that grasslands’ ecological development is quick and their recovery is rapid, posing new challenges to their successful restoration.
“Old-growth grasslands have a unique suite of characteristics that develop over a really long time…”
Old-growth trees more drought tolerant than younger ones, providing a buffer against climate change
A new analysis of more than 20,000 trees on five continents shows that old-growth trees are more drought tolerant than younger trees in the forest canopy and may be better able to withstand future climate extremes.
The findings highlight the importance of preserving the world’s remaining old-growth forests…
Mongabay series: Global Agroforestry
An ancient agricultural system, agroforestry combines trees with shrubs, crops, and livestock in a system that produces food, supports biodiversity, builds soil horizons and water tables, and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere — this series explores how and where it is being practiced by Indigenous communities, traditional agriculturists, and new farmers.
More on agroforestry
Agroforestry developed as a set of indigenous land-use practices over thousands of years across our global community. The interventions utilize trees, crops, and livestock in intimate combinations to produce positive ecological, social, and economic outcomes. In the United States, agroforestry systems are defined in the following ways: alley cropping, forest farming, riparian buffers, silvopasture, and windbreaks.
American agroforestry accelerates with new funding announcements
“There is a windfall of federal money entering the agroforestry sector,” Meghan Giroux told Mongabay. The director of Vermont-based agroforestry consultancy Interlace Commons, she is currently implementing a program to boost regional training capacity toward helping farms implement this sustainable farming technique — which blends annual crops and livestock with perennial shrubs and trees in a carbon-sequestering system that’s also more resilient to droughts and floods — while keeping her eye on the sizable new opportunities coming from the federal government.
That federal funding comes as interest in agroforestry is growing rapidly in the U.S., alongside the need to rapidly adopt more climate-positive types of agriculture…