Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

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


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.