With cover crops, the hype far outpaces the science
Cover crops have gained elite status as a way for farmers to fight climate change. But a closer look at the growing body of research raises questions about their ability to lower agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Cover crops struggle to overcome conventional soil management
Cover crops can help farmers build healthier soil, but they may not work well on fields where farmers have continuously grown corn for decades and applied large amounts of nitrogen fertilizers, according to two new studies. “In the Midwest, our soils are healthy and resilient, but we shouldn’t overestimate them. A soil under unsustainable practices for too long might reach an irreversible threshold,” said Nakian Kim, a doctoral graduate student in the University of Illinois’s Department of Crop Sciences who led the studies.
As globe warms, risk of agricultural drought rises, says climate report
Without immediate and broad-scale action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, global warming almost certainly will result in heat waves, changes in rainfall patterns and agricultural droughts, said a report by the UN climate change panel on Monday. Agricultural and ecological droughts were likely …
Methane from livestock may be greatly underestimated, say researchers
Livestock farms and feedlots in North America may be emitting far more methane, a potent greenhouse gas, than currently assumed, according to a review published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
USDA invites ideas on climate-smart ag policy
To carry out President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture, the USDA said it would accept suggestions through April 30 on elements of a climate-smart agriculture and forestry policy. “This includes making the most of USDA programs, developing new …
Agriculture a key source of nitrous oxide emissions
Farmers around the world are using ever-larger amounts of nitrogen fertilizers to improve yields and harvest more food. But the synthetic fertilizers, along with manure produced by livestock and used as a natural fertilizer, are the "dominant driver" in rising levels of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere, said a paper published Wednesday in Nature.
Top meat and dairy companies emit more than ExxonMobil and Shell, report finds
The world’s top five meat and dairy companies — JBS, Tyson, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, and Fonterra — emit more greenhouse gases between them than ExxonMobil, Shell, or BP, according to a new report from the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy and GRAIN.
More organic production possible without huge loss of virgin land
If the world raised organic production and moved toward a vegetarian diet, farmers could feed the global population without converting large amounts of virgin land like forests to crops, says a new study in the journal Nature Communications.
Appeals court overturns EPA’s 2016 biofuel mandate
The EPA erred when it set the target for biofuels use in 2016 below the levels specified by Congress, said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a decision that vacated the regulation and ordered EPA to try again. The three-judge panel said EPA improperly interpreted the "inadequate supply provision" that allows it to waive the statutory targets for renewable fuel use.
Swiss company announces first ‘commercial carbon dioxide capture plant’
The Swiss company Climeworks says it’s the first to develop a “commercial carbon dioxide capture plant” that can suck the greenhouse gas directly out of the air. It’s the kind of solution, some experts say, that is imperative given the dire pace of climate change.
California leads country with new climate-change legislation
California Gov. Jerry Brown has extended the state’s climate plan for another decade by signing into law a bundle of bills meant to lower greenhouse-gas emissions. “The legislation puts California at the forefront of plans by mostly Democratic governors to reduce carbon emissions and adhere to the goals of the Paris climate change accord after Republican President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the pact,” says Reuters.
U.S. signs Arctic treaty with nod to climate change
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed an agreement to fight climate change this week during his trip to Alaska for the Arctic Council, a multinational group that includes Russia and Canada. “The Arctic agreement Tillerson signed with foreign ministers from the other seven nations of the council, including Russia, Canada and Norway, made only a passing reference to the Paris pact,” reports Reuters. “It noted ‘entry into force’ of the pact and its implementation and called for global action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.”
Trump dumps Clean Power plan
President Trump officially rolled back Obama’s Clean Power Plan, signing a document called the “Energy Independence” executive order, says The New York Times. Even though many economists have said that the rise in demand for natural gas — and not climate change regulations — are to blame for a depressed coal market, Trump promised his order would put the miners back to work.
One way to boost ag productivity in developing world: support women farmers
Women make up two-fifths of the agricultural work force in developing countries yet are often at a disadvantage in gaining access to land, credit, training and "inputs" such as seed and fertilizer, says the Farming First coalition. A research paper underlines that point by looking at differences in fertilizer use by women and men farmers.
Three-fourths of Americans want CO2 emissions regulated
About 70 percent of Americans want government regulations on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, yet government officials are poised to roll back coal restrictions, says The New York Times, laying out public opinion on climate change in a series of maps.
Trump administration erases climate change from White House website
The Trump administration has removed nearly all mention of climate change from the White House website, says Reuters, while publishing a call for increased energy development and fewer environmental regulations.
California climate bills could raise food prices
Californians could see higher food prices, as well as increases for electricity, new homes and gasoline, thanks to two new state laws, adopted last summer, that are designed to lower climate emissions, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Farm chemicals add to Great Barrier Reef’s pain
“Climate change and the flow of farm chemicals and coastal sediment into the waters that wash over one of Australia’s most significant nature areas, the Great Barrier Reef, pose the biggest threats to its survival, according to a government report to Unesco released early Friday,” says The New York Times.