Category Archives: Regenerative Farming

Project Supports Nebraska Regenerative Agriculture

Drovers Magazine

The Nature Conservancy, McDonald’s, Cargill and Target are coming together to launch a new five-year, $8.5 million project aimed at working with Nebraska farmers to advance proven soil health practices to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate change. Overall, this effort has the potential to sequester 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of the project – equivalent to removing over 32,000 cars from the road in one year.

Nebraska is one of the top states for U.S. beef production and among the top three states for corn production, a key ingredient for cattle feed. This project will work with interested farmers to reach 100,000 acres of land and provide them with the technical and financial assistance to scale the implementation of regenerative soil health practices, including cover cropping, reduced tillage and diversified crop rotation. As an Ecosystem Services Market Consortium pilot, the program works to connect farmers to private sector payments for societal climate and water benefits. Read more here.

Image Credit: Bruce Knight / SlideShare

Additional Recommended Reading

Cover crop usage increases by 50%, Scottsbluff Star-Herald
According to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) 2020 National Cover Crop Survey, American farmers have increased their cover crop acreage by approximately 50%, an increase from an estimated 10 million acres on 133,500 farms to more than 15 million acres on 153,400 farms between the USDA’s 2012 and 2017 ag census.

Based on survey results from 1,172 farmers located throughout the nation who completed the survey, 93% of respondents reported they have used cover crops and have cover crop experience, while 7% reported they had never used cover crops in their farm system. Of the growers who incorporated cover crops into their management plans, the 2020 National Cover Crop Survey revealed farmers believe cover crops were beneficial to their operation in a number of ways.

Saving our Planet Starts in the Soil

By Cat Kutz, Smithsonian Magazine

Peter Byck is a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, in both the School of Sustainability and the Cronkite School of Journalism. He is the director, producer and writer of carbon nation. He is currently helping to lead a $6.3 million research project focused on Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing; collaborating with 20 scientists and 10 farmers, focused on soil health and soil carbon storage; microbial, bug and bird biodiversity; water cycling and much more. Byck has currently completed carbon cowboys, a feature-length documentary (in ten parts) focused on regenerative grazing: www.carboncowboys.org and is in production on a long-form documentary on the AMP grazing research project.

The trailer for carbon cowboys premiered during the 2020 Earth Optimism Digital Summit during which Byck also shared a bit more about the film as a speaker for a ‘Telling the Story’ session. Ahead of the premiere of carbon cowboys, Earth Optimism Communications lead Cat Kutz chatted with him to learn more about the regenerative farming the film highlights and how it can shift the way we think about food, climate and the future of farming. Continue reading here.

Links to Additional Information

Nebraska Resources

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243 to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.

National / International Resources

Previously Posted Articles

Featured Books

Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal, by Ronnie Cummins, Chelsea Green Publishing

Grassroots Rising offers a blueprint for building a grassroots Regeneration Movement based on consumer activism, farmer innovation, political change, and regenerative finance—embodied most recently by the proposed Green New Deal in the US.

Using regenerative agriculture practices that restore our agricultural and grazing lands, we can sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil. Coupled with an aggressive transition toward renewables, Cummins argues that we have the power to not only mitigate and slow down climate change, but actually reverse global warming.

Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, Fast Company Press

In his twentieth book, John Elkington–dubbed the “Godfather of Sustainability”–explores new forms of capitalism fit for the twenty-first century. If Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “Black Swans” are problems that take us exponentially toward breakdown, then “Green Swans” are solutions that take us exponentially toward breakthrough. The success–and survival–of humanity now depends on how we rein in the first and accelerate the second.

Green Swans draws on Elkington’s first-hand experience in some of the world’s best-known boardrooms and C-suites. Using case studies, real-world examples, and profiles on emergent technologies, Elkington shows how the weirdest “Ugly Ducklings” of today’s world may turn into tomorrow’s world-saving Green Swans. – Amazon

Missouri Ag And Climate Change: Farmers Scramble To Find Solutions Like Cover Crops, No-Till Methods

By Michele Skalicky, KSMU/Ozarks Public Radio

Missouri Farmers are trying to work around more frequent floods and drought, which scientists say are the result of climate change. The Missouri Department of Agriculture said it doesn’t currently have anyone in the department looking at the impact of climate change on the state’s top industry, so many farmers are trying to figure out solutions on their own. Read more here.

USDA Photo: No-till farming.

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

DOE FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT

Energy Department to Invest. More Than $5 Million in Tribal Energy Infrastructure Deployment ProjectsBetween 2010 and 2019, the DOE Office of Indian Energy invested nearly $85 million in more than 180 tribal energy projects implemented across the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These projects, valued at over $180 million, are leveraged by over $95 million in recipient cost share. See the DOE’s Office of Indian Energy website for a map and summaries of these competitively funded projects.

Nebraska Energy Projects 

Source: Tribal Energy Projects Database

SOLAR POWER WORLD VIDEO, ARTICLES & RELATED NEWS RELEASE

Pingree introduces Ag Resilience Act

Hagstrom Report, The Fence Post

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, last week introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act, which she said would “promote farmer-driven climate solutions.” The bill contains provisions to increase agricultural research, improve soil health and protect farmland by increasing funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program and the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program and amend the tax code to exclude from gross income the gain from the sale of 1) permanent conservation easements and 2) farm property to beginning, socially disadvantaged, veteran and young farmers. The bill would also create a new alternative manure management program to support an array of livestock methane management strategies [and more]. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Senate energy bill includes investment in solar and energy storage, Solar Power World
After a full year of hearings, business meetings and bipartisan negotiations, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), released the text of their energy innovation package. The American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA) will modernize domestic energy laws to ensure the United States remains a global energy leader while also strengthening national security, increasing our international competitiveness and investing in clean energy technologies.

For the full bill text, click here. For a high-level summary, click here. For a section-by-section, click here.

Image: “Capitol Building” by Lubos Houska / Public Domain Pictures

Conservation Nebraska event to focus on regenerative agriculture

By Collin Spilinek, Fremont Tribune

Conservation Nebraska will hold a public event at Keene Memorial Library this Saturday afternoon that will discuss water quality and regenerative agriculture. The free event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Guest speakers include Martín Darío Hernández Ramírez, Michaela Mast and Graham Christensen. The event will discuss issues with water quality in areas such as West Point and regenerative agriculture, a form of farming that focuses on soil as the number-one resource and using practices with the end goal to build soil organic matter. “I really like these speakers because their presentations not only give a lot of facts, but it’s really widely based on the solutions and what we can do to solve these problems,” said Dakota Stock, northeast conservation director for Conservation Nebraska. Continue reading here.

New Book Released Today – Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal

By Ronnie Cummins, Chelsea Green Publishing

Grassroots Rising offers a blueprint for building a grassroots Regeneration Movement based on consumer activism, farmer innovation, political change, and regenerative finance—embodied most recently by the proposed Green New Deal in the US.

Using regenerative agriculture practices that restore our agricultural and grazing lands, we can sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil. Coupled with an aggressive transition toward renewables, Cummins argues that we have the power to not only mitigate and slow down climate change, but actually reverse global warming.

Also In The News

To be released April 2020 – Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, by John Elkington, Fast Company Press. Described as the Godfather of Sustainability, John Elkington has now written or co-authored 20 books, including the million-selling Green Consumer Guide series.

GreenBiz article contributed by John Elkington: Step up for Earth Day 2020

Midlands Voices: Together, let’s nurture climate-smart agriculture in Nebraska

By Tom Hoegemeyer, Omaha World-Herald

The writer is a retired professor with the department of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, writing for the Nebraska Elder Climate Legacy Initiative, founded by Nebraska natural resources specialists.

 Nebraska is a top five food-producing state with the natural resources, human capital and ingenuity to lead this transformation. Farming principles and practices that seek to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem are being tested. If refined and adopted, they may also increase land productivity and profitability, and build greater resilience to weather extremes. A key component is protecting and improving soil health. Read more here.

Elder Climate Legacy.Org 

Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference set for Feb. 13

Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources News, UNL

There are many benefits to utilizing cover crops, such as improved soil health and reduced erosion. It’s the details of how and what to do that can present challenges. The Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference will provide information to growers who are just getting started with cover crops and to those who are already making cover crops part of their operation.

The conference will take place on Thursday, Feb. 13 at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead, Nebraska from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Read the entire announcement here.

Learn more about the speakers and their experience with cover crops on the Cover Crops Conference website. There is no fee to attend, but preregistration is required by February 7,  4:30 pm.

Previously Posted 

Nebraska Resources

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243 to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.

ADDITIONAL UPCOMING EVENT

Green Bellevue’s February Program: Regenerative Agriculture With Graham Christensen From GC Resolve, February 9, 2020 from 1:30 to 3 pm, Bellevue University’s Hitchcock Humanities Center, Room 202, 1040 Bruin Boulevard

Recommended Viewing: Graham and other Nebraskans were interviewed for this CBS News Documentary: A Climate Reckoning in the Heartland

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Startups aim to pay farmers to bury carbon pollution in soil, Yale Climate Connections
Roughly 20% of annual emissions could be captured by agricultural lands, according to one expert.

Morgan Stanley expects a surge of renewables, coal retirements

By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association

Partly driven by falling renewable energy prices, at least 70,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity could be shuttered this decade, on top of the 24,000 MW that is already set to retire, according to Morgan Stanley & Co. “We are at the start of a ‘second wave’ of renewables deployment and coal plant retirements, led by utilities that have historically not been leaders in decarbonization,” analysts with the investment firm said in a report released in December. Replacing coal with renewables could save consumers $3 billion to $8 billion a year, according to the report, The Second Wave of Clean Energy. It also represents a renewable energy investment opportunity of $93 billion to $184 billion, the analysts said. Read more here. 

IOWA CITY SCHOOLS’ CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

CORPORATE CLEAN ENERGY PROCUREMENT

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Don’t say Amazon isn’t doing anything — international PPAs on the rise, GreenBiz. Here are five trends and notable developments based on last quarter’s clean energy procurement deals. 

REGENERATIVE FARMING / REGENERATIVE ENERGY

NEW OPPORTUNITY ZONES TOOL

U.S. Economic Development Administration And Indiana University Launch New USA Opportunity Zones Tool, EDA January 2020 Newsletter

On January 14, EDA and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business announced the launch of the USA Opportunity Zones tool. This new web-based tool will help local economic and community developers, investors, the more than 390 EDA-designated Economic Development Districts (EDDs), and others across the nation better target private investment to Opportunity ZonesAs economic development practitioners build their five-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), incorporating Opportunity Zones is a new and promising tool for further enhancing economic growth.

The Expert Take: Katherine Hamilton on our energy transition

Generation 180 Interview

At Generation180, we’re working to inspire and equip individuals to get involved in the energy transition. It’s complex and it’s big. So to provide a better sense of where we’re headed, we’re providing a deeper dive into what’s happening with this transition—where are we right now, how far we’ve come, and, most importantly, where we need to go.

As part of our online Boot Camp project, we recently spoke with Katherine Hamilton, an energy expert with over 30 years of industry experience. Katherine has worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is currently the chair of 38 North Solutions and former co-chair of a World Economic Forum council on advanced energy technology. Here [is] what’s on Katherine’s mind and what she sees as the role of “everyday energy leaders.” Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GENERATION 180

SUSTAINABILITY JOBS

Jobs You Can Do With a Sustainability Degree, Earth911

GREEN SCHOOLS

Iowa City schools anticipate cutting carbon emissions in half in five years, Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa City schools appear on track to reduce carbon emissions by more than 45% by 2030, the goalpost student climate activists have pushed for in Iowa City, according to a consultant’s report.  But the report indicated that reducing carbon emissions to a net-zero by 2050, another goal pushed for by climate activists, will require the district to take action.

REGENERATIVE FARMING & CLIMATE RESILIENCY

Black farmers embrace and implement solutions for climate resiliency, by Leah Penniman, Co-Director Soul Fire Farm, GreenBiz

Leah Penniman is a farmer, educator, soil steward and food justice activist. She is co-director and program manager of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, and the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.


RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM (REAP)

The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Program Status: Open
Program Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

NEW REPORT

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Environment America releases 2020 state legislative agenda priorities, News Release
State affiliates of Environment America, a national nonpartisan advocacy group, delivered meaningful progress on several environmental and public health issues in 2019. But given the obstacles that still exist at the federal level on those issues and more, states will have to continue to lead in 2020. Here is a roundup of the top issues and bills that Environment America’s 29 state affiliates will be working on across the country this coming year:

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

2020 will be a key year (and decade) for electric vehicles, GreenBiz
This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING