Aerial view of a nearly full Briones Reservoir, a large reservoir in the hills near Orinda, California.
It’s been a good winter for drought-stricken California. Record-breaking precipitation in January has raised reservoir levels and added to the essential Sierra Nevada snowpack.
According to the National Weather Service, some parts of the state received over 200 percent average precipitation for January, and current snowpack levels are at 173 percent of average. This is important, because snowpack stores vast amounts of water that is slowly released as temperatures rise in the spring and summer.
Heavy rainfall also provides the opportunity for on-farm recharge, a method of deliberately flooding farm fields to help replenish groundwater aquifers.
There is certainly cause for optimism, but it’s going to take more than a few rainy months to solve California’s water woes.
Kansas farmer Gail Fuller
Soil health wasn’t always this sexy. The United Nations has named 2015 the International Year of the Soils, the National Corn Growers Association created the Soil Health Partnership, and the Telegraph newspaper is claiming that we can only ignore the soil crisis for so long, and that “just a handspan of topsoil lies between us and oblivion.”
But Kansas farmer Gail Fuller has been at the forefront of soil health measures since the early 1980s. Just last month, he hosted the fourth annual “Fuller Field School,” a soil health workshop that was attended by growers from across the globe.
I asked Gail, who operates a diversified 1,000 acre farm in Emporia, Kansas, to tell me why soil health is so important for our food system, and why other growers should get on board. Read More
Posted in Ecosystems, Food, Sustainable Agriculture Also tagged agriculture, agronomist, conservation tillage, cover crops, drought, erosion, farmers, farms, fertilizer pollution, growers, kansas, no-till, soil health, soil management, sustainability
Cover crops can include grasses like cereal rye.
Corn is trying to fight this summer’s extreme weather, and unfortunately, the weather is winning.
There are serious floods in the Midwest, devastating droughts in California, and brutal heat waves along the eastern seaboard. Ohio for example had a record June rainfall of 11 inches, which stunted corn roots and prevented many growers from planting any corn crops. In Northwest Ohio alone, 100,000 acres were left unplanted. At the same time, places in my home state of North Carolina experienced a June heat wave during the critical corn pollination period, significantly damaging corn yields.
These extreme weather events leave many farmers searching for ways to make the best of a challenging growing season. Although June’s weather was the opposite in Ohio and North Carolina, cover crops offer a proven solution to deal with both conditions. Read More
Posted in Ecosystems, Fertilizer, Food, Sustainable Agriculture, Water Also tagged agriculture, California agriculture, California drought, cash crop, climate change, conservation, Conservation Technology Information Center, corn, cover crop, crops, drought, farm, farmer, food, nitrogen, North Carolina, nutrient, Ohio, pollination, soil, Soil Health Partnership, soy, soybean, soybeans, SUSTAIN, sustainable, sustainable agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, sustainable grain, United Suppliers MB Gro Program, water use, yields