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Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what's driving conservation. These articles are not indicative of NACD policy and are the opinions of their authors, unless otherwise noted. If you have a relevant submission or need assistance with accessing articles, please contact NACD Communications Manager Sara Kangas.
Editor’s Note: The next edition of Conservation Clips will be published on Friday, Feb. 15.
NACD Blog: 2018 Farm Bill Breakdown: Urban Conservation
Urban agriculture is a small but growing sector of the agriculture industry. Urban producers face both challenges familiar to any farmer, like accessing land and credit, as well as challenges unique to the urban setting – like soil contamination. The 2018 Farm Bill included several provisions designed to increase urban agricultural production and tackle challenges unique to urban locations.
Agri-Pulse: Trump agrees to reopen government for three weeks
President Donald Trump agreed Friday to end the five-week-old partial shutdown of USDA and other major departments and agencies. Under the agreement, USDA, the Interior Department, FDA, EPA and other departments and agencies for which fiscal 2019 spending bills have not been enacted yet will be funded through Feb. 15 by a continuing resolution.
The New York Times: Tough Times Along the Colorado River
(Opinion) The federal government could soon begin restricting Colorado River water allocations if the seven states that share the water don’t approve their drought plans to reduce water consumption. The deadline for those approvals is Thursday.
EurekAlert: Prairie strips transform farmland conservation
STRIPS: Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips showed that converting just 10% of a row-cropped field to prairie strips: reduces soil loss by 95%, reduces overland water flow by 37%, and reduces the loss of two key nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from the soil by nearly 70% and 77%, respectively.
Successful Farming: Big Food Takes Soil Health Seriously
“Soil health” and “sustainability” may just sound like the latest fads that food companies can use to peddle more products. But McDonald’s joins a host of other big food companies – Cargill, ADM, General Mills and others – that take these terms seriously. Rather than incentivize farmers directly, McDonald’s invests into research and development of soil health practices as a way for the company to help farmers.
Agri-Pulse: Ag Census report delayed because of shutdown
The lapse in funding during the five-week government shutdown has delayed the planned release next month of the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said assuming funding remains available for fiscal year 2019, it plans to release the 2017 Census of Agriculture at noon on April 11. The report was originally set to be unveiled at USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum Feb. 21.
Reuters: Oink, moo and brrr: Polar vortex strikes U.S. farm belt
Farmers from North Dakota to Iowa buckled down for some of the coldest weather in a generation in the teeth of sub-zero temperatures and bone-chilling winds. But temperatures expected to plunge in some areas as low as minus 40 degrees, the point at which Fahrenheit and Celsius converge, are no laughing matter for an industry dependent on the elements.
The New York Times: Are We Watching the End of the Monarch Butterfly?
The total number of West Coast monarchs was estimated at approximately 4.5 million in the 1980s. In the latest count, that number fell to 28,429, dipping below the number scientists estimate is needed to keep the population going. This drastic decline indicates the migration is collapsing. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce in June whether its scientists think the monarch qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
National Geographic: To curb climate change, we have to suck carbon from the sky. But how?
In 2017, according to a third-party audit, planting cover crops on land that once sat empty helped the McCarty farms in Kansas and Nebraska pull 6,922 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil across some 12,300 acres—as much as could have been stored by 7,300 acres of forest. Put another way: The farm soil had sucked up the emissions of more than 1,300 cars.
Civil Eats: How an Oregon Rancher is Building Soil Health—and a Robust Regional Food System
Equally if not more important to Carman, however, is the focus on what she calls the “holistic management” of her land. This involves constantly moving the cattle and paying careful attention to the rate of growth of the animals and grasses. By this system, the steers select the forages they need to grow and gain weight, and the grasses get clipped, trampled down, and fertilized with manure, resulting in fields that are vibrant—they retain water, resist drought, contain abundant organic matter, which contributes nutrients and carbon, and are highly productive without the addition of fertilizer.
Hakai Magazine: What Happens to Fish After a Wildfire?
Denuded stream banks erode quickly, with topsoil and ash clouding streams and making it difficult for fish to breathe or find food. Even firefighting efforts are a threat: foam fire suppressants can suffocate fish, while fire retardants can be toxic.
Pacific Standard: Can Cities Help Preserve the Butterflies and the Bees?
Many pollinator insect species like bees, butterflies, and hoverflies are on the decline, due in large part to habitat destruction driven by conversion of land to agricultural fields and urbanization. But, while cities are generally considered to be poorer in biodiversity than rural areas, new research finds that urban areas could actually play a key role in conserving pollinator communities.
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