Monday, February 20, 2012

Greenest Presidents

Photo from the National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection

When considering presidents with environmental legacies, most people first think of Theodore Roosevelt. At the SWCS, we also remember FDR. But where do Carter, Clinton, and Nixon fall on the tree-hugging spectrum? For Presidents' Day, The Daily Green has offered a list of the 10 Greenest Presidents as well as picks for the least environmentally aware presidents. 

Pop quiz: Which president said, "trees cause more pollution than automobiles do?"

Des Moines Register Article: ISU study finds many Iowa lakes are dirtier, less healthy

Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA NRCS

A recent Des Moines Register article by Perry Beeman gives a preview of the results of a three-year, Iowa State University/Iowa DNR study on the quality of Iowa lakes over time. The study, based on sediment samples taken from 33 of Iowa's lakes, reveals the dramatic changes in the lakes due to intensified agricultural land use.

The implications of the study may be far-reaching: Beeman writes, "The findings by Iowa State University scientist John Downing and colleagues are likely to figure heavily in future debates over farm regulations and the next Farm Bill."

Conservationists also hope that this information can help provide realistic goals for cleanup and restoration.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Soil Quality Network 2012

If you've already exhausted the No-Till on the Plains soil health library from Monday's post, don't worry! Judging by the events posted on the SWCS Network calendar, February is the month of soil-friendly conferences and educational opportunities.

Today, farmers and educators gathered in Holyoke, Colorado for a no-till and cover crops workshop. This weekend, February 18 and 19, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association is holding their annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty. And later this month is the International Erosion Control Association's Annual Conference.

Of course the SWCS wanted in on an event too, so we're co-sponsoring the Soil Quality Network 2012 in Portland on February 23-24. The Soil Quality Network 2012 conference will help agriculture consultants and planners develop strategies and actions to support farmers interested in improving soil quality. The agenda includes general sessions, farm tours, and breakout sessions, which feature hands-on demonstrations by researchers, technical specialists, and educators. Whether you're growing wheat or blueberries, the Soil Quality Network will provide information on assessing and monitoring soils in order to maintain the agricultural land base.

Who will be there?  NRCS and SWCD conservation planners; extension staff; crop consultants; field representatives; soil scientists; soil quality specialists; federal, state, and county agency agricultural staff; farmers and ranchers; as well as third party certifiers and inspectors are just some of the people who should plan to attend.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chipotle Airs Sustainability Ad

Last night during the Grammy Awards, Chipotle aired their animated "Cultivate a Better World" advertisement, a music video argument for sustainability. Set to a soundtrack featuring Willie Nelson singing Coldplay's "The Scientist," the advertisement depicts a farmer wrestling with the practice of factory farming. By the end of the video, the farmer breaks down his confinements, frees the animals, and loads his product directly onto a Chipotle truck. Chipotle says that the ad was commissioned to "emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system."

The video has been available on YouTube for several months, but last night the advertisement reached a wider audience and since then has been tweeted over 10,000 times.

Soil Health Webinars

Need something to do while snowed in this week? The nonprofit educational group No-Till on the Plains has posted several free, online webinars about soil health. They cover a range of topics and come in bite-sized lengths. Click through to watch

Friday, February 3, 2012

New online tool: Farmer's Legal and Regulatory Guide

Corn and Soybean Digest
The Iowa Soybean Association's Environmental Programs and Services team announced a new, free online tool for farmers wanting to know what rules and regulations impact their operation. Organized in a question and answer format, the "Iowa Farmer's Legal and Regulatory Guide to Environmental Issues" is intended to help farmers navigate issues to figure out what are their rights and responsibilities and where to find more information. Topics include: air quality, animal production, fertilizers, fuel storage, leasing, manure management, pesticide use, soil conservation programs, water quality and more. More

More from this week's Conservation NewsBriefs at