Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

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

U.K. startup uses recycled plastic to build stronger roads

We’ve seen the birth of futuristic solar roads and even a return to retro gravel roads, but now there’s a new player on the street: recycled plastic. British engineer Toby McCartney has devised an innovative process to replace much of the crude oil-based asphalt in pavement with tiny pellets of plastic created from recyclable bottles. The result is a street that’s 60 percent stronger than traditional roadways, 10 times longer-lasting, and a heck of a lot better for the environment, claims McCartney’s company MacRebur.

McCartney first conceived of the idea after getting fed up with the potholes in the roads near his house and remembering how he’d seen people fill potholes in India by filling them with plastic trash and melting it into place. Typical roads are made of about 90 percent rock and sand with 10 percent bitumen. MacRebur’s product essentially bulks up the bitumen with recycled waste plastic, so the roads are stronger and less of the oil product is required to bind together rocks.

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Source:  Barbara Eldredge, Curbed, April 26, 2017

The Chore of Understanding Water Rights Just Got a Little Easier

It is notoriously difficult to access and interpret information on water rights. Water Sage, a new web-based service now offered in California, aims to take the sting out of this task for individuals and institutions alike.

DBC winter 2014

Who owns the water? And how much do they use? These are simple questions. But answering them has never been easy, thanks to complicated laws, cumbersome public records and byzantine bureaucracies.

Unlike property records, in many states those covering water have never been very accessible. And reporting requirements imposed on water users are often weak and poorly enforced, meaning records are often patchy and vague.

Searching for answers usually means a time-consuming slog through public records – sometimes on paper – that yields unsatisfying results. In the case of groundwater, the search is even more difficult.

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Source:  Matt Weiser, Water Deeply, April 11, 2017

Occidental County Sanitation District Update: Spring 2017

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For more than 20 years, the Occidental County Sanitation District has been looking for a solution to its wastewater problem. Over the years, the District has studied alternatives that range from working with Camp Meeker on a small regional system to upgrading its plant and piping the water to farmers for irrigation. None of the approximately 15 options considered have been feasible – due to either costs, environmental concerns or community opposition.

Time is now running short:  The District is under orders by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to stop the current practice of discharging recycled water into a pond at the headwaters of Dutch Bill Creek by January 2018. Last year, the District determined that trucking Occidental’s wastewater to another sanitation district is the most cost effective solution.

A recent environmental document analyzed trucking the wastewater to the Russian River County Sanitation District’s main lift station on Riverside Drive, with a back-up option of trucking to the Airport-Larkfield-Wikiup plant. At a public hearing held in Monte Rio in February, the Riverside Drive neighbors made clear their opposition to the project, with more than 20 people speaking out. In response to community concerns, Water Agency staff (working on behalf of the District), is pursuing other options and will be releasing a new environmental document in the next few months.

More info here.

Source:  Sonoma County Water Agency e-News / April 2017

Workshop 5: Essential “CORE” Principles and Best Practices in Succession Planning: Management Techniques for Operational Compliance


Date & Time: April 14, 2017 from 9am – 12:30pm

Location: Hyatt Vineyard Creek, Dry Creek Ballroom

Cost: Free

*Registration begins 30 min prior to the event

Over the course of two workshops, Saqui and Calvo will help growers develop and groom leaders to ensure a successful business transition in the field and in management operations. On March 23, 2017, Management Techniques for Operational Compliance workshop growers will learn how operational compliance guidelines can actually be used not as a drain on resources, but rather to drive revenue and production. Management techniques discussed will include engaging employees in the operations of your company, and teaching employees about the business to increase compliance and production.

Featured Speakers: Michael Saqui and Raul Calvo

More info here.

Source:  The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission in partnership with a Risk Management Grant through USDA is proud to offer a free of charge, groundbreaking, eight-month succession planning series “Protecting Family Farms for the Next 100 Years Through Succession Planning” to all grape growers in Sonoma and Marin County.

Transition Planning Guide for Agribusiness

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For farm families who are, or soon will be, dealing with transition planning, getting the process underway can be a challenge. Structure, in the form of a planning process and normal meetings, helps.  Sometimes though, getting an initial meeting organized is the most difficult — like taking the proverbial first step.

The preferred approach would be to have the retiring generation initiate the planning and call the first meeting, if that’s how they want to get the process started. However, if the retiring generation is delaying or not proceeding with transition planning, the next generation can take the lead. There is no guarantee that the parents will want to, or agree to, participate but it’s fair for the next generation to attempt to get the process started.

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Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Food Development

Transition Planning Guide for Agribusiness

What we need are farms that support farmers, consumers AND the environment

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The past several years have been rough for many U.S. farmers and ranchers. Net farm incomes this year could fall to 50 percent of 2013 levels in a fourth consecutive year of income declines that is leading some producers to seek alternatives. At the same time, rural and urban Americans share growing concerns related to agriculture: worries that water pollution will be increasingly costly and harmful, that water supplies are at risk from extreme swings in rainfall, and that global warming due to fossil fuel burning threatens our food system and will necessitate changes in how we farm.

What if all of these challenges could find a common solution? It might just be that they can. In a commentary published this week in the scientific journal Elementa, we contend that agroecology offers a promising approach to solving food system problems while mitigating, water and energy concerns — and propose a way to overcome the obstacles to fully embracing it.

U.S. agriculture has trended for several decades — as a result of policy, economics and other drivers — toward systems that are more simplified over both space and time. This has had adverse consequences for food, energy and water.

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Source:  Andrea Basche and Marcia DeLonge, Ensia, March 3, 2017

Editor’s note: This Voices contribution is published in collaboration with the academic journal Elementa. It is based on “Leveraging agroecology for solutions in food, energy and water,” a peer-reviewed article published March 2, 2017, as part of Elementa’s Food-Energy-Water Systems: Opportunities at the Nexus forum.