Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.


Moving the Giants – An Urgent Plan to Save the Planet

David Milarch is an arborist from central Michigan. In 1991, Milarch had a near death experience that inspired a personal quest – to archive the genetics of the world’s largest trees before they’re gone and to replant global forests to fight climate change. This is the story of David and his efforts to save the redwood champions of Northern California from the ravages of climate change.


Climate Smart Agriculture Incentive Programs

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The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting grant applications for climate smart agriculture incentives programs administered by its Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation (OEFI) and funded by SB 5 and California Climate Investments. Appropriations for these four grant programs total $134 million.

The following programs at CDFA are accepting grant applications:

State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP)

Applications are due on Friday, March 8, 2019 by 5:00 P.M. PT.

SWEEP provides farmers and ranchers with grants to implement irrigation systems that save water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Projects funded through SWEEP commonly include elements such as soil, plant or weather sensors, micro-irrigation systems, pump retrofits or  replacements, renewable energy, and variable frequency drives (among others). SWEEP is funded through a $20 million appropriation authorized by the Budget Act of 2018 and funded through the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 (SB-5).

Detailed information on SWEEP, including application process, application requirements, schedule of application assistance workshops conducted by CDFA and list of third-party technical assistance providers is available at: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep

 

Healthy Soils Program (HSP)

Applications are due on Friday, March 8, 2019 by 5:00 P.M. PT.

The HSP provides financial assistance for implementation of conservation management that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The HSP is funded through a $10 million appropriation through SB-5 and $5 million appropriation from California Climate Investments (CCI), for a total of $15 million authorized by the Budget Act of 2018. The Healthy Soils Program will be implemented under two separate sections:

Incentives Program:
The Incentives Program will award grants to farmers and ranchers for implementation of agricultural management practices that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Detailed information on HSP Incentives Program, including application process, application requirements, schedule of application assistance
workshops conducted by CDFA and list of third-party technical assistance
providers is available at is available at:
https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/healthysoils/IncentivesProgram.html

Demonstration Projects: The Demonstration Projects will award projects that monitor and demonstrate to farmers and ranchers in California, specific management practices in agriculture that improve soil health, sequester carbon, and reduce greenhouse gases.

Detailed information on HSP Demonstration Projects, including application process, application requirements and a schedule of application assistance workshops conducted by CDFA is available at:  https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/HealthySoils/DemonstrationProjects.html

 

Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP)

Applications are due on Tuesday, April 3, 2019 by 5:00 P.M. PT.

The DDRDP provides financial assistance for the installation of dairy digesters on commercial dairy operations in California. The DDRDP is funded through a $99 million appropriation from the CCI, authorized by the Budget Act of 2018. The DDRDP will be implemented under two separate sections:

Incentives Program:
The DDRDP Incentives Program will award grants to provide financial assistance to commercial milk producers and dairy digester developers for implementation of anaerobic digesters that reduce methane emissions from dairy manure management.

Detailed information including application process, application requirements, schedule of application assistance workshops conducted by CDFA, and third-party assistance for community outreach assistance is available at:  https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ddrdp/

Demonstration Projects: The DDRDP Demonstration Projects will award dairy operations and digester developers for the implementation of dairy digester projects that demonstrate innovative technologies to achieve long-term methane emission reductions on California dairies and minimize or mitigate adverse environmental impacts.

Detailed information including application process, application requirements and a schedule of application assistance workshops conducted by CDFA is available at:  https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ddrdp/DemoProject.html

 

Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP)

Applications are due on Tuesday, April 3, 2019 by 5:00 P.M. PT.

The AMMP provides financial assistance for the installation of dairy digesters on commercial dairy operations in California. The DDRDP is funded through a $99 million appropriation from the CCI, authorized by the Budget Act of 2018. The AMMP will be implemented under two separate sections:

Incentives Program: The AMMP Incentives Program awards competitive grants to California dairy and livestock operations for specific management practices that result in long-term methane emission reductions and maximize environmental benefits.

Detailed information including application process, application requirements, schedule of application assistance workshops conducted by CDFA, and list of third-party technical assistance providers is available at:  https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/AMMP/

Demonstration Projects:The AMMP Demonstration Projects will fund projects that demonstrate to a wide audience innovation in the implementation of diverse manure management practices that reduce methane emissions and maximize environmental co-benefits on California dairy and livestock operations.

Detailed information including application process, application requirements and a schedule of application assistance workshops conducted by CDFA is available at:  https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/DemoProject.html 

 

The DDRDP, AMMP and HSP are part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment– particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at: http://www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.


Soil Conservation in California: An analysis of the Healthy Soils Initiative

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California is called the golden state, named for the gold trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains that drew desperate men like flies. Later, when the dream of easy wealth dried up, those same men moved to California’s Central Valley and planted wheat—acres and acres of it;[1] a different kind of gold. It turned out that California’s true wealth was in its soils, not in its precious metals.[2]

How do those soils fare today? Agricultural production has long served as a proxy for soil health, but it is an inaccurate proxy. Because top soil takes hundreds of years to form,[3] and erodes faster than the lifespan of civilizations but slower than the human lifespan, it is not the most immediate limiting factor upon agriculture nor the most visible.[4] This is especially true in California, where a fluctuating water supply dictates what and how much farmers can grow.

Moreover, California’s agriculture still flourishes, at least superficially. California remains the leading agricultural production state in the nation in terms of both value and crop diversity.[5] The counties within the San Joaquin Valley produce more food than any other comparably sized region in the world.[6] No other state, or combination of states, matches California’s productivity per hectare.[7] Stunning achievements all, but the continuing productivity of California’s agricultural sector has more to do with the Green Revolution’s miraculous technological trifecta: chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and controlled water supply[8] than with the health of the State’s soils.

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Source:

Danika Desai. Managing Editor, UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy.

This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate.


Scientists identify vast underground ecosystem containing billions of micro-organisms

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The Earth is far more alive than previously thought, according to “deep life” studies that reveal a rich ecosystem beneath our feet that is almost twice the size of that found in all the world’s oceans.

Despite extreme heat, no light, minuscule nutrition and intense pressure, scientists estimate this subterranean biosphere is teeming with between 15bn and 23bn tonnes of micro-organisms, hundreds of times the combined weight of every human on the planet.

Researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory say the diversity of underworld species bears comparison to the Amazon or the Galápagos Islands, but unlike those places the environment is still largely pristine because people have yet to probe most of the subsurface.

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Source:  Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, December 10, 2018


Is American Agriculture Prepared to the Tackle Climate Challenge?

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The 4th National Climate Assessment – “Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” released by the Administration just after Thanksgiving, underscores the very real climate change-related challenges that American producers can expect to face in the coming years. The extensive report includes a close examination and peer reviewed analysis of the implications for agriculture across the country, including opportunities to adapt and contribute to mitigation. The findings and warnings of the National Climate Assessment are also supported by several other scientific reports published recently.

No less than 2 months ago, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 15th special report, which outlined the dire impacts of global warming 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. American family farmers and ranchers are already feeling the negative impacts of climate change on their livelihoods; many have lost crops, income, and even their entire operations because of severe floods, extreme heat and drought, and increased pressures from changing disease and pest patterns. Given the consequences of inaction, we must ensure that those on the frontlines have the tools they need to adapt to the effects of a changing climate and mitigate their contributions to it.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, November 30, 2018.


Paradise is Gone

The Camp Fire consumed Paradise, California

But maybe we should pause– scared, stricken, even devastated, and ask ourselves, what is in the air right now? What does this living animal body, this feeling, yearning, loving, sometimes tender animal, who is us (even if brave, even if assuredly able to carry on) feeling right now, in this moment? Not in some future moment when Paradise is rebuilt, but in this moment, right now, that Paradise is gone.

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Source:  Gabriel Kram, Medium, November 20, 2018


The Dollars and Cents of Soil Health: A Farmer’s Perspective

North Carolina farmer Russell Hedrick holding corn

Last year, the United States lost 2 million acres of land in active crop production. As the global population grows towards a projected 9.8 billion people by 2050, so too does demand for the food, fuel and fiber grown in America. The result? American farmers are looking for sustainable ways to produce high yields year after year.

To support this growing demand, many farmers are incorporating soil health management principles into their operations. Conservation practices such as cover crops and no-till are widely recommended to build soil health over time, but do these practices actually improve crop yields and lead to stable profit margins? To answer this question fully we will rely on universities, private scientists, government researchers and those most directly impacted: farmers themselves.

Meet Russell Hedrick

Russell Hedrick is a first-generation corn, soybean and specialty grains producer in Catawba County, North Carolina. Hedrick started in 2012 with 30 acres of row crops. Since then, he’s expanded to roughly 1,000 acres.

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Source:  Elizabeth Creech, Natural Resources Conservation Service in Conservation, March 12, 2018