Given the current challenging economic outlook, some might assume that farmers will abandon conservation efforts and focus exclusively on their finances. However, many of the financial best practices cited by farmers and encouraged by farm financial advisers are the very same principles that can help farmers continue to improve environmental outcomes.
NutrientStar, which assesses fertilizer management products and tools using field trials and in-depth scientific reviews, was a game changer for farmers. Prior to the launch of the program last year, there was no expert review program to help farmers determine what tools would work as advertised.
The only downside of the program was its limited utility. Farmers had no easy way to extrapolate results from the relatively few number of field trials performed thus far to their own locations. Now, a new geospatial feature called the Technology Extrapolation Domain (TED) framework will make NutrientStar accessible to tens of thousands of additional farmers across the Corn Belt.
I like to think of it as NutrientStar on steroids.
Suzy Friedman, Senior Director of Agricultural Sustainability for the Environmental Defense Fund lays some basic principles for bring farmers and environmentalists into partnership.
Environmental Defense Fund’s David Festa lays out why a steady, consistent approach to environmental regulation is better for the economy and an expression of democratic values.
It’s been a good winter for drought-stricken California. Record-breaking precipitation in January has raised reservoir levels and added to the essential Sierra Nevada snowpack. It will take many years of consistent, above-average rainfall to fully recover from the drought, and that seems unlikely given the variable nature of the state’s climate. California’s water problems are not only the result of historically scant rainfall. Convoluted water policies, patchwork regulations and burdensome water politics perpetuate the problems, causing imbalances in the way water is managed.
The Obama administration White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently released an intriguing report on how the United States can transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050 while continuing economic growth. The report gives a starring role in this job to agricultural lands.
“Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization” outlines a 3-pronged strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent while accelerating job-creating innovation. Calling each strategy “critical,” CEQ first lists the familiar call to transition to renewable and low carbon forms of energy.
The second key strategy, however, is less often discussed: the potential of cropland and grassland soils, as well as forests, to store and sequester hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 annually. The report – informed by decades of scientific research – describes the opportunities to explore in this area.
If farmers are to mitigate methane emissions, they need to know where and under what conditions the emissions occur. And they need management options that have been proven to make a difference.
Environmental Defense Fund, thanks to a generous grant, is helping to quantify methane emissions from different management approaches. This work builds on EDF’s earlier efforts to develop good estimates of methane released through the energy sector.