USDA report finds barriers to farmers in carbon markets

More than nine out of 10 farmers are aware of carbon markets but only a fraction of them are participants, said a USDA report on Monday that listed several barriers, including a "limited return on investment as a result of high transaction costs." Carbon contracts have been promoted as a way for farmers to be paid for locking carbon into the soil as part of their day-to-day operations.

Earth Day vote is set for ‘Growing Climate Solutions’ bill

The Senate Agriculture Committee will vote on Thursday, Earth Day, on a retooled bill that would make it easier for farmers and foresters to earn money for locking carbon into the soil and trees, said chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. A sponsor of the legislation, Stabenow said language was strengthened to assure farmers, rather than investors or middlemen, receive the revenue for climate mitigation.

Agriculture is ready for climate mitigation, says Vilsack

Tom Vilsack, nominated for agriculture secretary in the Biden administration, said he will rapidly ramp up USDA programs to combat climate change and that he believes farmers will be enthusiastic at the opportunity to make money by sequestering carbon in the soil. “Agriculture writ large is …

Alliance including farm groups seeks tax credits to fight climate change

The government would create a range of tax credits to encourage carbon sequestration in the soil and forests, deploy “digesters” nationwide to convert manure into energy, and work more aggressively to reduce food waste if it follows the recommendations of farm, conservation and food retail …

New market planned to pay farmers for soil carbon, water quality

General Mills, ADM, Cargill, McDonalds, and The Nature Conservancy are among 10 companies and nonprofit organizations that are forming a national market by 2022 to incentivize the adoption of farming practices that build soil carbon and improve water conservation.

Where Trump would cut, Walz would boost land stewardship

The two largest U.S. soil, water and wildlife conservation programs aimed at working lands are targeted for enhancements in legislation sponsored by Minnesota Representative Tim Walz, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee.

16 percent of global population dies early because of pollution

Nine million people died prematurely in 2015 because of air, water and soil pollution — three times the number that died of tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria combined, says a study published in The Lancet. The exact cause of death ranged from lung cancer to heart disease, but the total amounted to 16 percent of all deaths globally.

Researchers develop bananas resistant to monster fungus

Researchers have developed the first genetically modified version of a Cavendish banana that is resistant to the devastating soil-borne fungus known as Panama disease. The fungus, or Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), can stay in the soil for 40 years and doesn’t respond to chemical sprays. It has destroyed Cavendish — the main commercial banana variety — plantations around the world, and is fast spreading across Asia.

UN: A third of Earth’s land is damaged, largely from industrial agriculture

A third of the Earth’s land is severely degraded and 24 billion tons of fertile soil are disappearing each year, according to a new United Nations-backed study that puts the majority of the blame on intensive agriculture. “The Global Land Outlook is billed as the most comprehensive study of its type, mapping the interlinked impacts of urbanisation, climate change, erosion and forest loss," reports The Guardian.  "But the biggest factor is the expansion of industrial farming.”

China faces widespread soil pollution from plastic mulch

To boost food production, China has spread polyethylene film across 49 million acres — 12 percent of the country’s total farmland — despite warnings that the synthetic mulch is toxic and degrades the soil.

California gets in the dirt to fight climate change

Starting this summer, the state of California will pay farmers to return nutrients to their soil that were lost to monocultures and tillage. The first of its kind in the country, California’s Healthy Soils Initiative will give growers grants to add “compost on rangelands or [seed] fields between harvests with so-called cover crops such as grasses and mustards, which add organic matter to the soil,” says The New York Times.

Soils called crucial to combating climate change

As the Trump administration teeters on the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, around 200 scientists, climate activists, farmers, and NGO representatives from around the world convened earlier this month to focus on how to bring soil carbon sequestration to scale—and fast.

USDA panel doesn’t resolve if soil needed to grow organic food

A USDA task force set out to determine in September 2015 whether fruit and vegetables are ‘organic’ if they’re grown in a medium other than soil. More than 10 months later, they issued a report that is “anything but conclusive,” writes Civil Eats.

Groundwater feeds more than half of river flow in the West

More than half the flow of rivers in the upper Colorado Basin is derived from groundwater, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Society. The study's authors hope it will compel state water managers to ask important questions, since rivers are a key source of irrigation and drinking water across the west. For instance, should a farmer’s use of a nearby river be limited if he or she is also pumping large amounts of groundwater?

Drought, wildfire and erosion compel a California community to heal the soil

In parts of California, the historic drought is creating a new breed of wildfire that burns so hot that the scorched soil left behind erodes instead of reseeds, says Lisa Morehouse, who reported on one farming community’s efforts to revive its land after last year’s 70,000-acre Butte Fire. The story was co-produced by FERN and KQED’s The California Report.

NRCS trains farmers to protect the microbes in their soil

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is on a nationwide mission to train farmers to protect the microorganisms in soil—and their relationship to crops— instead of destroying them with fertilizer and chemical sprays, says an Orion Magazine story produced with the Food and Environment Reporting Network.

USDA announces soil, water, wildlife project for Red River

The government will spend up to $50 million over five years to reduce flooding and improve water quality, soil health,and wildlife habitat in the Red River of the North basin. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the project at Moorhead, Minn, across the Red River from Fargo, ND.

Making conservation pay in dollars to farmers

It's well-known that agricultural practices can affect soil fertility, water quality, wildlife populations and pest numbers for good or bad.

Ag-sector drive for uniform rules on Big Data

Farm groups, seed companies and equipment manufacturers met in Kansas City to discuss common rules for gathering, use and ownership of Big Data without reaching a conclusion, says Reuters.

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