Thursday, November 17, 2011

Message to Congress: Healthy lands, waters support a healthy economy
The Huffington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, writes that despite the billions of dollars generated from agriculture (among other lucrative industries), there's a serious misconception in the way people think and talk about government funding for conservation. Tercek says that conservation investments sustain the valuable benefits that nature provides to people — safe and plentiful water supplies, coastal buffers from storms, reduction in pollution and support of agriculture and forestry. More

Ohio farmers battle sedimentation, nutrient runoff in creative ways
Farm and Dairy    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Agricultural runoff and sedimentation into nearby water systems is nothing new in Fremont, Ohio. New data shows that the impact — large concentrations of harmful algal blooms just a few miles north in Lake Erie, where most of the water drains — is growing. A new device created by a farming family — a concrete trough or chute that's called an "instream sediment collector" — may help solve the problem. More

Agriculture must increase pace of food production
Western Farm Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The world's farmers are increasing food production, but not at the pace needed to meet the needs of 9 billion to 10 billion people in 2050. That was the message the Global Harvest Initiative delivered at this year's World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa. GHI's Bill Lesher and Laura Barringer discussed the organization's findings during interviews at a media briefing. More

Agriculture foes use 'perfect storm' to target farm programs
Delta Farm Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
With farm commodity prices having hit record highs in recent years, and with the federal government facing record deficits, "in this fiscal environment, we have something of a perfect storm for opponents of production agriculture to target all of our programs for cuts," says Carlisle Clarke, agriculture liaison for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The Obama administration, Clarke says, issued a proposal that would lop $33 billion from agriculture spending, coming from commodity, conservation and crop insurance titles. More

Paying farmers to protect habitat could save environment, cash    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A research consortium is field-testing a revolutionary plan that would pay farmers and ranchers in British Columbia, Canada, to produce cleaner air, water and wildlife habitat alongside their food crops. The enhancements range from increasing the buffer zone between crops and waterways, livestock fencing around environmentally sensitive areas, replanting native plant species to encourage native wildlife and reforesting to capture carbon or shade salmon spawning streams. More

Federal program would offer annual payments for North Dakota wetlands protection
Grand Forks Herald    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Farmers in the flooded Devils Lake Basin could benefit from a federal agricultural program designed to voluntarily protect wetlands and flooded agricultural lands. An appropriations bill recently released by a joint U.S. House-Senate conference committee includes $7.5 million for the program, according to Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., a member of the Appropriations Committee. The program allows producers and landowners to enter into 10-year agreements to voluntarily protect wetlands and flooded farmland in return for annual payments. More

From tragedy to action: USAID's environmental trajectory
USAID Frontlines    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
On the border between Ecuador and Colombia, communities of Cofan Indians are using improved cocoa-production techniques to reduce pressure to convert neighboring forests to agricultural lands. Three indigenous groups in this highly biologically diverse region participate in a program with the Government of Ecuador under which they receive annual payments for upholding conservation agreements. These conservation efforts are just one example of USAID's innovative environmental work around the globe. More

Increased agriculture regulations still to come from EPA
Southwest Farm Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn't necessarily have farm interests lined up in its crosshairs, but it's not exactly ignoring agriculture as a target of opportunity either. "We've had it pretty good in agriculture for a long time," said Shannon Ferrell, assistant professor at Oklahoma State University, during the recent Rural Economics Outlook Conference. "EPA went after the low-hanging fruit first, the big polluters," Ferrell said. "Now, they're going after the rest." More

Iowa farmers complete 61,000-ton biomass harvest for cellulosic ethanol
Hoosier Ag Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As part of the 2011 harvest, farmers around Emmetsburg, Iowa, have baled approximately 61,000 bone-dry tons of corn crop residue. The bales of corn cobs and light stover will be delivered to a biomass storage site in Emmetsburg, where POET's commercial cellulosic ethanol biorefinery will be completed in 2013. More

Minimal tillage makes a difference in dry areas
Voice of America    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Since the dawn of agriculture, tilling the soil has been fundamental to farming. But today, experts say this age-old practice may do more harm than good in some places. That's why they've been telling farmers to throw away the plow. More

Conservation NewsBriefs is a weekly compilation of news stories of interest to SWCS members and stakeholders. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy of the Soil and Water Conservation Society unless so stated. The products mentioned herein are not endorsed by the Soil and Water Conservation Society unless so stated.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conservation NewsBriefs: 11/10/11

Research shows health of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay is improving
United Press International 
The water quality of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay is improving through efforts to reduce the flow of fertilizers, animal waste and other pollutants, U.S. researchers said. An analysis of bay water quality records from the past 60 years show the size of mid- to late-summer oxygen-starved dead zones has been declining since the 1980s, when a concerted effort to cut nutrient pollution was initiated through the federal Chesapeake Bay Program.More
  • Crop sensors outperform farmers at choosing nitrogen rates
    Agronomy Journal via Crop Science Society of America
  • Researchers make variable-rate irrigation simpler to use
    University of Georgia via Southeast Farm Press
  • Amending soils with gypsum
    Crops & Soils magazine
  • Company wants to tap Mojave aquifer; conservationists worry about impact
    The Associated Press via MSNBC
  • Expert: Kenya's agricultural sector at risk as biodiversity loss accelerates
    Africa Science News
  • Genome of 'orphan crop' cracked; pigeonpea set for sustainable food production
  • Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Conservation NewsBriefs for 11/3/2011

    Farm bill talks drag amid regional differences
    The Argus Leader
    Lawmakers missed a self-imposed deadline for having a new farm bill as they worked to resolve regional differences among farmers in how their crops would be subsidized. Leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees and their aides have been rushing to write a bill that would reduce farm spending but still guarantee that grain and cotton growers can count on government payments to supplement their income.More
  • California farmers face future of grueling water regulations
    Western Farm Press
  • Agroforestry: A growing science seeks to boost its practice
    CSA News
  • Conservation practices survey coming to New York in November
    National Agricultural Statistics Service via The Post Standard
  • Vertical farming: How a former meat-packing facility became a successful farm
    Climate Progress
  • Expert: Climate change making country's water problems worse
  • Rancher concerned about effects of fracking on water supply
    Calgary Herald
  • Recycled sewage water aids biofuel crops
    Laboratory Equipment
  • Catastrophic drought in Texas causes global economic ripples
    The New York Times
  • Friday, September 23, 2011

    SWCS Conservation NewsBriefs
    Sept. 22, 2011

    More trouble lies ahead for Mississippi River watershed
    Twin Cities Daily Planet
    A three-hour drive separates the rolling hills of Minnesota's Douglas County from the front steps of the Bell Museum of Natural History. But a year after the controversy over "Troubled Waters" — the Bell's film on farmland pollution in the Mississippi River basin—brought words like dead zone, hypoxia and nitrogen fertilizer to the attention of the general public, what's happening in places like west-central Minnesota provides an insight into what the future holds for the health of the entire watershed all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.More
    Chesapeake Bay: Farmers learn about tools that help reduce nitrogen pollution
    Daily Press Diggin' In Blog
    A U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist in Colorado is helping farmers grow crops with less nitrogen-based fertilizer. Jorge Delgado, with the Agricultural Research Service Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo., helped develop a tool designed for fledgling environmental trading credit programs that reward growers for reducing nitrogen losses. Known as the Nitrogen Trading Tool, it can be used to determine how much a proposed management practice may be able to reduce nitrogen losses, and how much "trading credit" could be earned by switching to it.More
    A push to farm smarter — not bigger — to feed the world's hungry
    The Christian Science Monitor
    With famine in Africa and food prices at record highs, governments and agencies around the globe are looking to educate small farmers about more efficient, sustainable agriculture practices. The United States is rolling out agricultural partnerships around the globe, particularly through its $3 billion Feed the Future Initiative, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development. One of its stated goals is "to leverage $70 billion in private investment in agriculture that improves sustainable market opportunities and linkages with smallholder farmers."More
    Study: Organic farming shows long-term profitability
    WholeFoods Magazine
    Farms that produce organic food are economically viable on a long-term basis, and are perhaps more profitable than conventional farms, according to new research by the American Society of Agronomy. The study, conducted by the University of Minnesota and recently published in Agronomy Journal, analyzed 18 years of crop yields and other farm data. Findings included a lower risk of poor returns for organic corn and soybean crop rotations than for conventional rotations.More
    Sucking up water, sand in the quest for natural gas
    Dallas Observer
    For folks in the sandy hills an hour and a half northwest of Dallas, it's a devil's bargain for gas, water and jobs. The record drought is forcing farmers in and around Saint Jo, Texas, to tap into well water, putting added pressure on the Trinity Aquifer. The locals are especially worried about what is being fed into Mountain Creek with the construction of EOG Resources' sand mine just 50 yards away. EOG will soon need to pump large amounts of water from the aquifer for its sand mine’s primary business — fracking.More
    Conservation farming threatened by lack of funds in Namibia
    The Namibian
    A six year conservation farming project in has led to a massive rise in output for around 400 northern Namibia agricultural farmers who took part in the trial runs. Statistics show that yield increases at farms which adopted a conservation approach to agriculture ranged from between 200 to 500 percent. Despite the success of the two phases of the project, funding has ended and the project's future hangs in the balance.More
    Why hairy vetch should interest farmers
    Winnipeg Free Press
    Cover crops have traditionally been used by organic farmers to produce fertilizer, writes columnist Laura Rance. A legume crop, which produces its own nitrogen, such as clover, is planted in the field every second year or so and then worked into the soil, where it decomposes and feeds the following year's crop. As it turns out, some of these cover crops, particularly a legume called hairy vetch, are also good at controlling weeds.More
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    Monday, June 20, 2011

    SWCS Announces Conservation NewsBriefs

    SWCS is excited to announce the upcoming launch of our newest member resource!
    Conservation NewsBriefs is a brand-new weekly e-news brief that delivers timely, relevant news about soil and water conservation research and policy directly to your inbox! Sign up today by clicking here to ensure you don’t miss out on this great benefit from SWCS.
    Prepared each week in partnership with MultiBriefs, Conservation NewsBriefs will be a highly informative e-news brief that delivers the most relevant content directly to your inbox every Thursday.
    Look for Conservation NewsBriefs in your inbox starting June 23, 2011!
    Learn more at:

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    2011 Annual Conference News

    2011 SWCS Annual Conference (Washington, DC - July 17-20). Registration open. Program online. Posters still accepted thru 5/2.