Growing Returns

California governor reappoints EDF working lands director to state food and agriculture board

Eric Holst

Eric Holst, director of EDF's working lands program

Eric Holst, senior director of Environmental Defense Fund’s working lands program, has been reappointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture by Governor Jerry Brown.

Holst has served on the board – a fifteen-member state board appointed by the governor to represent a range of agricultural commodities, geographic regions and academic systems – since 2012. The board encourages public participation and input in all matters concerning agriculture and food policy within the state, from hunger and malnutrition to climate change and environmental markets. But the dominant focus over the last year has been drought and how to mitigate impacts on California agriculture.

A natural choice

Holst has been a leader in developing innovative partnerships with farmers, ranchers and foresters to improve environmental and economic performance on working lands for more than a decade, both in California and elsewhere across the country. Read More »

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No illusion here. Optical sensors can save farmers money.

19159_Husking CornPrecision agriculture is on its way to becoming mainstream. First, farmers need tools and technologies that make this kind of smart farming dramatically easier.

Optical sensors are one of the most promising technologies available now. This technology is very exciting because it helps farmers save money on fertilizer – and improve crop yields.

Optical sensors are devices attached to a farmer’s fertilizer applicator. As the farmer travels across the field applying fertilizer, the technology reads how green or healthy the crop is, and it applies the right amount of fertilizer in accordance with each plant’s needs. Read More »

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Collaborative conservation: A ripe example from America's farms

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been working with farmers and ranchers for more than a decade to transform business as usual by providing incentives for conservation. As EDF’s 2014 strategic plan notes, “we’ve seen some encouraging things.”


EDF staff join farmers and other conservation collaborators in the field to track outcomes for habitats and species.

With proven success in the field, we are now looking to take these programs to scale to boost food production while maintaining profitable farms, a safe environment and healthy people. Read More »

Posted in Carbon Market, Ecosystems, Habitat, Habitat Exchange, Sustainable Agriculture| Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USDA: Helping ranchers is crucial to helping sage-grouse

Central Oregon rancher restores sage-grouse habitat with NRCS assistance. Source:

Central Oregon rancher restores sage-grouse habitat with NRCS assistance. Source:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just announced new funding to support sage-grouse habitat conservation on working lands.

This is very promising, considering the last round of sage-grouse funding engaged more than 1,000 ranchers to conserve 4.4 million acres of bird habitat – an area twice the size of Yellowstone National Park.

That last round of funding – made available in 2010 through the Natural Resource Conservation Service's (NRCS) Sage Grouse Initiative – invested $296.5 million to restore and conserve sage-grouse habitat. Today, NRCS pledged to extend these efforts by $200 million over another for years.

Doubling down on a good investment
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Nuts about chocolate and wine? Your favorite Valentine’s Day treats are at risk

box of chocolatesIf you are among the old school Valentines who appreciate a good box of chocolates and a fine cabernet, you’ll be heartbroken to learn that these romantic treats may be much harder to come by in the future because of climate change.

Droughts and rising temperatures pose great risks to agricultural productivity across the globe, from California’s Napa Valley to West Africa’s cocoa fields.
Read More »

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A farmer’s perspective: 4 reasons why collecting data is important


Kristin Duncanson

Thanks to GPS and the Internet, many farmers have been collecting data about their farms – water usage, inputs, crop yields – for over 20 years. Only in recent years has the term “big data” taken on a new meaning, given the plethora of new tools and technologies available today to help farmers collect and analyze data on all aspects of their farm operations.

This week also marks the launch of the first-ever Big Data Roundtable Series, an annual event that brings together experts from across the agricultural arena to discuss how major retailers can leverage data to improve business sustainability, and how growers can utilize measurement tools and analyze data to use fertilizer more efficiently and save on input costs.

Here, I ask Kristin Weeks Duncanson, a crop and livestock operator and member of the AGree advisory committee, to explain the value of collecting data for farm operations and the environment and why many farmers are still hesitant to collect data. Read More »

Posted in Ecosystems, Fertilizer, Food, Supply Chain, Sustainable Agriculture| Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed
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