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Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Renewables

Solar Sunflower
AgriSolar Clearinghouse

Solar energy and its place on the land

The Mississippi Valley Conservancy works in Wisconsin where they conserve a wide range of landscapes. The organization developed a Climate Action Plan and is working to help the community understand how local action can inspire big impacts.

In a world beset with climate change and its attendant fires and floods, the need for solar energy is immense — vital if the world is to quit burning fossil fuels, the primary cause of the climate crisis…

The trick, for those of us in the business of land conservation, is to make a contribution to that effort without compromising our missions of protecting biodiversity and working lands that produce the food we need. There’s a growing body of research and practical application that offers hope that this can happen using agrivoltaics, the practice of combining agriculture and solar energy collection — a dual use of the land…

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Ag Solar
Judy Anderson

Farmland preservationists, solar developers to build green energy arrays

The conservation community is realizing that solar, when designed to work with agriculture, can help keep farmers on the land, keep land in production, and increase soil health and water management. But we have to demand that this type of solar happens...

An estimated 750,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. is lost each year and “solar development if done right could potentially help” save some of that farmland, said John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to keep farmland in production.

Earlier this week, Piotti said during a webcast meeting that his group would work with two private firms, Edelen Renewables and Arcadia Solar to develop “agrivoltaic” community solar farms in a number of states including New York…

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Rooftop Solar
iStock

Solar workshop series

Land trusts are realizing that transitioning to solar in a manner that is compatible with agriculture, structures, and disturbed land, is part of their conservation work. They don't have to be experts. Rather, they can tap into other organizations and leaders, and run or sponsor programs — like this land trust has done.

While this workshop is over, you can get a sense of what they are helping to amplify. The following is from their announcement:

Solar workshop series comes to southern Maryland: If you’re interested in using solar electricity to power your home, farm, or business, then please join an upcoming session of the University of Maryland’s “Solar Workshop Series.”

University of Maryland Extension Specialists and industry representatives will discuss the opportunities, challenges, and practical applications for using solar power. Each workshop will address important factors that will help you decide if solar is right for you and how you can install a solar electric system that meets your needs…
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Coastal Rivers
Nate Poole

Coastal Rivers takes leap towards carbon neutrality with solar array

I think you will appreciate the leadership of land trusts like Coastal Rivers, who are making it clear that an integrated approach to slowing down climate change, matters.

For those who braved mud or ice to stroll the slopes at Round Top Farm this winter, they may have spotted something shiny and new in the southwest field behind Darrows Barn.

As of Jan. 3, contractors with ReVision Energy completely installed eight rows of solar panels on a one-acre parcel at the farm and are in the process of finishing the wiring on the array. ReVision broke ground on the project in the fall.

Hannah McGhee, Coastal Rivers outreach and communications manager, said the location for the panels was selected for the minimal impact it would have on the visual landscape at Round Top for the public and abutters.

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Piglets
iStock

Farming collaborative plan looks to keep land accessible, open

Vermont Land Trust has long been an organization supporting farm viability as part of its farmland protection strategy. This is an interesting project that reflects climate change, economic viability, and conservation.

Under the land collaborative model, the property will not solely be devoted to agriculture; Sanford-Long’s animals will share land with a planned solar array…

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Solar Farm
Robin Lubbock/WBUR

Farms will harvest food and the sun, as Mass. pioneers ‘dual-use’ solar

Is your land trust thinking creatively about climate solutions and partnerships? Perhaps your land trust realizes that renewables need to work with land and water.

Paul Knowlton owns 300 acres of land in Grafton, and farms about 50. The farm has been in his family for five generation, ever since Knowlton’s great-great-grandfather settled in the Blackstone Valley in 1872.

These days Knowlton grows pumpkins, squash and corn. Up a gravel road, past the family cemetery, corn stalks are still standing from this year’s crop. “Considering the drought situation, we did fair,” Knowlton says.

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Solar Sheep
American Solar Grazing Association

Solar meets sheep (and bees, and more)

Is your land trust thinking creatively about climate solutions and partnerships? Perhaps your land trust realizes that renewables need to work with land and water. Scenic Hudson continues to demonstrate how they are an organization that is learning and helping to lead.

Often solar panels sit on former agricultural land, but aren’t what we’d otherwise think of as a farm.

Agrivoltaics aims to change that by hosting PV panels and agriculture on the exact same land. Often, livestock like sheep graze under the solar panels. Sometimes the projects include pollinator habitat as well, which can benefit biodiversity, honey production, or adjacent pollinator-dependent crops. And trials are being done growing shaded crops under raised panels, too…

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Screen Shot Webinar

Solar that supports farmers, soils, water

We are losing farms due to a lack of farm viability. Elevated solar, that allows for growing crops, grazing with dairy cows and horses, and protecting orchards and sensitive plants could become the norm (if we make it that way...). Check out this webinar.

While states and communities around the U.S. are ramping up renewable energy commitments and incentivizing solar development, many farms are struggling. There is also growing concern that solar development could displace active agricultural use on productive farmland, with impacts to farm renters, local economies, and regional food systems. Without an integrated approach, achieving clean energy goals may come at the loss of some of our most fertile and economically viable farmland to solar development.

American Farmland Trust seeks a more collaborative and sustainable path forward towards a clean energy transition that supports healthy soils, wholesome food, and vibrant farms…

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Monarch
iStock

Climate Change Pilot Project

We can make sure that solar developments are installed and managed to benefit farm and ranch viability, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water management.

South Kingstown Land Trust was invited by the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resource Center (CRC) to participate in a pilot project to investigate how climate change could impact land trusts — whether impacts to our land holdings themselves or to our priorities for preservation.

For Rhode Island, the likely effects of climate change will include sea-level rise and increases in air and water temperature, precipitation, and storminess. The study was funded by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council…

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Goat Solar
iStock

The Nature Conservancy tool helps identify ideal solar farm sites in Georgia

We can make sure that solar developments are installed and managed to benefit farm and ranch viability, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water management.

They compared that information to maps of critical habitat, protected lands, and prime farmland. And they put their results into a free online tool.

It allows developers, natural resource agencies, and others to identify low-impact locations for new solar farms. And Gutierrez says the tool finds plenty of them…

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