November 2020

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the latest edition of NACSAA News, a monthly compilation of CSA-related news. “NACSAA in Action” features the latest on the Alliance activities; “Featured News” offers some of the biggest CSA-related stories of the past month; “Other News We Are Reading” is a listing of news stories from other sources we think you will find of interest; and “Partner News and Events.” We hope this newsletter will serve to keep you, your members and other constituencies fully engaged in the growing development of climate-smart agriculture policy, programs and practices. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. To subscribe, email info@SfLDialogue.net.

NACSAA Members in Action

NACSAA Steering Committee Member

To Represent Farmers at Global Climate Workshop

 

Lois Wright Morton, an Ohio specialty crop farmer who sits on the NACSAA Steering Committee and serves as a SfL board member, will be one of two farmers presenting at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) workshop on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA).

 

Dr. Lois Wright Morton

The climate dialogues, an all-virtual series of events being held in place of the in-person annual Conference of the Parties (COP), is running this week and next, through Dec. 4.

 

The KJWA is a landmark decision recognizing the role of agriculture in tackling climate change. The policy, which was adopted by member states in 2017, calls on climate negotiators to address issues related to agriculture, taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security.

 

Dr. Morton, whose session is set for Tuesday Dec. 1, will, on behalf of SfL and the entire farmer constituency in the UNFCCC, outline three key social-economic outcomes that farmers are essential partners in accomplishing:

 

  • Reduce hunger and improve nutrition by supporting research and production of fruits, vegetables, animal proteins, and food-grade grains for human consumption;
  • Create jobs and generate quality rural livelihoods and economic growth by diversification and sustainable agricultural intensification production systems, processing, and distribution of agricultural products; and
  • Ensure the integrity of soil, water, forests and other ecosystems’ resources as they are essential to agriculture, healthy food production, societal well-being, and a resilient earth

“Climate adaptation and farmer financial security are critical if we are to move farmers beyond subsistence livelihoods and achieve food security and nutrition for all,” she says.

 

Dr. Wright is Professor Emeritus with the Department of Sociology at Iowa State University. She served as Project Director for the USDA Climate and Corn-Based Cropping System Coordinated Agricultural Project; and Communications Chair for the, 25x’25 Adaptation Work group.

 

SfL Unveils Video Showing Solutions

Farmers Can Offer to Meet Global Challenges

 

A 20-minute video presentation in which Solutions from the Land farmer leaders offer a vision of solutions that farming operations can deliver to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by UN member nations is now available on YouTube.

 


The 17 SDGs, represent a blueprint to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. The goals seek to curb climate change, eliminate hunger, restore water quality and promote inexpensive, clean energy, among other far-reaching objectives.

 

Sharing their experiences on the video are SfL Co-Chairs AG Kawamura, a California grower and shipper, and Fred Yoder, an Ohio wheat and grain farmer; SfL board member Pat O’Toole, who owns and operates a large-scale cattle and sheep operation that straddles the Colorado-Wyoming border and is president of the Family Farm Alliance; and SfL Farmer Envoys Adrienne Mollor, a Massachusetts cranberry operation owner and grower for the Ocean Spray Cooperative; and Trey Hill, who, along with his family, owns a Maryland farm that grows corn, wheat and soybeans.

 

Each producer explains how their operation employs innovative, sustainable practices, including integrated land management systems that produce multiple benefits such as stemming climate change, boosting clean air and water, and enhancing biodiversity. Using their cell phones and their farms and ranches as backdrops, they tell the SfL story and outline how agriculture can be a major pathway to achieving climate and other SDGs.

 

The video also serves as a preview of a SfL white paper and video case study series set for release in January 2021. The white paper and videos will detail farmer, rancher and forester perspectives on how transformational, systemic change can meet the global mega-challenges articulated by the SDGs. Written by farmers, the report will call for an agricultural renaissance and will outline what farmers need to deliver high value solutions that will improve rural livelihoods and the planet.

 

If you have questions for any of the five SfL presenters featured in the video, you can reach each by email:

C2ES Climate Roundtable Set for Dec. 1-2

 

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), in partnership with Solutions from the Land and the Iowa Smart Agriculture (IASA) initiative, is organizing a “Getting to Zero Virtual Regional Roundtable” in Des Moines.

 


The invitation-only event, set for Dec 1 and 2, will bring together farmers, business leaders and conservation partners for a conversation around how they can collaborate in reducing GHG emissions.

 

The two-day event will focus on soil health and the bioeconomy.

 

SfL President Ernie Shea will be facilitating the soil health session and a number of IASA leaders, including Ray Gaesser, Bryan Sievers and Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore, have been invited to serve as “Firestarter speakers” to tee up the facilitated conversations at both sessions.

 

Food and Ag Alliance Unveils Climate Policy Recommendations

 

An alliance of groups representing farmers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates unveiled a set of recommendations Nov. 17 to guide the development of federal climate policy.

 


The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) was formed earlier this year by four groups that now co-chair the alliance, including three NACSAA partners: the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union and the Environmental Defense Fund. The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives if the fourth founding organization.

 

The alliance has since expanded to include FMI (The Food Industry Association), the National Alliance of Forest Owners, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and The Nature Conservancy.

 

Together, the groups developed more than 40 recommendations based on three principles:

  • Agricultural and forestry climate policies must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities.
  • They must promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities.
  • They must be science-based.

In a statement, FACA leaders say the recommendations share an overarching goal to do no harm, noting that climate policies will impact farmers, forest owners, ranchers, rural and limited-resources communities, wildlife and natural resources. They say the recommendations must be thoughtfully crafted to account for any potential inequities, consequences and tradeoffs.

 

“We are proud to have broken through historical barriers to form this unique alliance focused on climate policy,” said Zippy Duvall, FACA co-chair and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We began discussions not knowing whether we would ultimately reach agreement. It was important to me to reject punitive climate policy ideas of the past in favor of policies that respect farmers and support positive change. Our final recommendations do just that.”

 

Rob Larew, FACA co-chair and president of National Farmers Union, said, “Climate change is adding another enormous variable to the already unpredictable work of farming. Every year farmers face more frequent and severe weather events, making it just that much harder to make a profit. There are concrete actions farmers can take to build resilience to weather extremes and pull carbon out of the atmosphere, but they need strong policy behind them. The recommendations we’ve compiled are a good place to start.”

 

“The wide array of perspectives represented in this group – farmers, ranchers, forest owners and environmental advocates – sends a powerful message to Capitol Hill about the urgent need for bipartisan climate legislation,” said Fred Krupp, FACA co-chair and president of Environmental Defense Fund. “More resilient farms and forests protect the agricultural economy, reduce risk from the climate impacts that are already here and help prevent worsening climate impacts in the future.”

 

FACA Co-chair Chuck Conner, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, said, “Much as a farmer co-op gets its strength from uniting many producers to achieve a single goal, so too does FACA. Through FACA, the food, forestry and agriculture sectors can speak with a single voice on climate and, leveraging the unique perspectives and special talents of its members, help drive the conversation about the role that the food, forestry and agriculture sector can play in addressing climate policy.”

 

Overview of climate policy recommendations

  • Provide voluntary, incentive-based tools and additional technical assistance for farmers, ranchers and foresters to maximize the sequestration of carbon and the reduction of other greenhouse gas emissions, and increase climate resilience.
  • Foster the development of private sector GHG markets. The public sector should ensure that verifiable reductions occur and provide farmers and forest owners with the technical support needed to participate.
  • Use an array of public and private sector tools to incentivize agricultural and forestry producers to prioritize and scale climate-smart practices.
  • Incentivize farmers to reduce energy consumption and increase on-farm renewable energy production, and make continued progress toward reducing the lifecycle GHG emissions of agriculture- and forestry-based renewable energy.
  • Reduce the GHG impact of food waste and loss by streamlining confusing consumer-facing packaging and implementing a public-private partnership to achieve a meaningful and workable food date-labeling program.
  • Increase federal investment in agriculture, forestry and food-related research substantially and continuously.

Read the full recommendations at www.agclimatealliance.com, which cover six areas of focus: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste.

 

Field to Market Names 2020 Farmer of the Year

 

Recognized for outstanding conservation efforts on his farm and leadership in advancing sustainable agriculture, Iowa Climate Smart Work Group member Jack Boyer has been honored as Field to Market’s 2020 Farmer of the Year.

 

Jack Boyer

Boyer and his wife, Marion own and operate a Century Farm in Northern Tama and Southern Grundy counties of Iowa, near Reinbeck, where they produce corn and soybeans, and raise seed corn for DuPont-Pioneer.

 

Boyer is a Commissioner for the Tama County Soil and Water Conservation District, a Conservation Districts of Iowa Region 7 Director, and is on the Board of Directors for Practical Farmers of Iowa.

 

In 2015, Boyer was named a “Soil Health Champion” by the National Association of Conservation Districts, for promoting the benefits of cover crops and soil health, topics he continues to speak about to several groups each year. The Boyers are also Lifetime Members of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

 

An agricultural engineer by training, Boyer brings an analytical mind to his farm operation, dedicating himself to conducting on-farm research and implementing innovative practices which have dramatically improved his soil health.

 

The Farmer of the Year Award celebrates Boyer’s innovation and commitment to implementing conservation across his operation and beyond, as he advocates for soil health practices and shares learnings from his research with other producers and non-operating landowners.

 

“I’ve been involved in agriculture all my life, and my second interest was in engineering,” Boyer says. “My engineering career with John Deere brought me to Iowa. Being raised as a farmer helped prepare me to be an engineer and in turn, I was able to use that engineering training and apply it to my farming practices.”

 

 

Featured News 

 

Biden Plan Calls for USDA, Other Federal Agencies

To Take on Climate Change

 

Agriculture plays a significant role in recommendations formulated for the incoming Biden administration to deal with climate change. Incentivizing Climate Smart Agriculture is among the key recommendations listed for implementation by the USDA.

 

The Climate 21 Project taps the expertise of more than 150 experts with high-level government experience, including nine former cabinet appointees, to deliver actionable advice for a rapid-start, whole-of-government climate response coordinated by the White House and accountable to the President.

 

 

 

The project entails a series of memos that contain recommendations for 11 White House offices, federal departments, including the USDA, and federal agencies, as well as cross-cutting recommendations on personnel and hiring.

 

The authors, which include a number of former Obama administration officials, say the Climate 21 Project is not offering a policy agenda. Instead, they say the memos contain recommendations “that can help the President hit the ground running and build the capacity of his administration to tackle the climate crisis quickly with the existing tools at hand.”

 

The recommendations are focused in scope on areas where the contributors have the most expertise. But officials say an “all-of-government mobilization” on climate change will require important work by additional federal departments and agencies that were not examined by the Climate 21 Project.

 

Key program recommendations and opportunities listed in the USDA section include:

 

  • Issue a Secretarial Order on Climate Change and Rural Investment to signal climate change as a top priority of the department frame USDA’s interest in investing in agriculture, forestry, technology, innovation, and rural economies, and to set agendas for policy and programmatic actions needed to act on climate. (Day 100)
  • Invest in natural climate solutions by establishing a Carbon Bank using the Commodity Credit Corporation to finance large-scale investments in climate smart land management practices; prioritizing climate smart practices in implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs; and identifying opportunities to invest in natural infrastructure. (Day 100)
  • Incentivize Climate Smart Agriculture and Rural Investment through financial tools, including crop insurance, rural development grants and loans, and USDA procurement. (Day 100)
  • Decarbonize rural energy and promote green energy and smart grids through the vast reach of rural development grants and loans to rural utilities and by dramatically increasing use of methane digesters, biofuels and wood energy, and wood product innovation. (Day 100)
  • Prioritize federal investment to address wildfire by establishing a Wildfire Commission, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior and a Democratic and Republican governor, to offer recommendations to increase the pace and scale of ecologically-sound forest restoration on federal, state, tribal and private forest lands, modernize firefighting response in the United States, address development in the wildland-urban interface, and increase the use of prescribed fire. (Day 100)

The document calls on the incoming Biden administration to create a new National Climate Council to coordinate and drive climate policy. Officials say the new body would be comparable in White House policy influence with the National Economic Council.

 

Database Offers More Accurate Modelling  

Of Climate Change on Water Resources

 

To better document the repercussions of climate change on regional water resources, researchers from around the world now have access to HYSETS, a database of hydrometric, meteorological and physiographic data created by a team at Montreal, Canada’s École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS).

 


The database contains 70 years’ worth of data on 14,425 North American watersheds.

 

“Given the diversity of its data and the number of regions documented, HYSETS will allow you to develop models for virtually any type of climate,” said Richard Arsenault, professor of construction engineering and a member of the Hydrology, Climate and Climate Change Laboratory (HC3), at ÉTS, who spearheaded the project.

 

The ready-to-use data are offered free of charge and can be downloaded from HERE.

 

“Normally, we have to draw the data we need from several different databases, then filter them before being able to use them to create a reliable model. This task must be repeated each time we want to create a model. We thought it would be a good idea to create a huge database with ready-to-use data that could serve the entire scientific community,” explained Richard Arsenault.

 

HC3 officials say HYSETS differentiates itself from other databases with the huge number of watersheds its covers, the wide variety of data provided for each watershed, and its reach across three nations.

 

Officials also say HYSETS contains hydrometric, meteorological and physiographic data – a diversity that is highly useful, if not necessary, to better understanding the propagation of uncertainties in water resource management chains.

 

Another notable factor cited by officials is HYSETS inclusion of data that covers a long period of time, from 1950 to 2018. The database will be augmented annually with data from the previous year, making it highly useful for studying past and more recent changes in hydroclimatic variables across different regions of North America.

 

The HYSETS database can also be used as a test environment for a wide range of applications, including hydrological modeling. With multiple datasets on temperatures and precipitation, the database can assist in correcting biases in worldwide and regional climate models.

 

Arsenault says the database is an “undeniable” asset for researchers in hydrology, environment and climate sciences, because it’s easier to develop models using a significant number of regions. In addition, current studies rely more and more on large scale data in order to take into account the instabilities created by climate change.

 

New Global Temperature Data Will Inform Study

Of Climate Impacts on Ag, Health

 

A seemingly small one-to-two-degree change in the global climate can dramatically alter weather-related hazards. Given that such a small change can result in such big impacts, it is important to have the most accurate information possible when studying the impact of climate change. This can be especially challenging in data-sparse areas like Africa, where some of the most dangerous hazards are expected to emerge.

 


A new data set published in the journal Scientific Data provides high-resolution, daily temperatures from around the globe that could prove valuable in studying human health impacts from heat waves, risks to agriculture, droughts, potential crop failures, and food insecurity.

 

Data scientists Andrew Verdin and Kathryn Grace of the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota worked with colleagues at the Climate Hazards Center at the University of California Santa Barbara to produce and validate the data set.

 

“It’s important to have this high-resolution because of the wide-ranging impacts – to agriculture, health, infrastructure. People experiencing heat waves, crop failures, droughts – that’s all local,” said Verdin, the lead author.

 

By combining weather station data, remotely sensed infrared data and the weather simulation models, this new data set provides daily estimates of 2-meter maximum and minimum air temperatures for 1983-2016. Named CHIRTS-daily, this data provides high levels of accuracy, even in areas where on-site weather data collection is sparse. Current efforts are focused on updating the data set in near real time.

 

“We know that the next 20 years are going to bring more extreme heat waves that will put millions or even billions of people in harm’s way. CHIRTS-daily will help us monitor, understand, and mitigate these rapidly emerging climate hazards”, said Chris Funk, director of the Climate Hazards Center.

 

Additionally, the people who are most vulnerable are often located in areas where publicly available weather station data are deteriorating or unreliable. Areas with rapidly expanding populations and exposures (Africa, Central America and parts of Asia, for example) can’t rely on weather observations. By combining different sources of weather information, each contributes to provide detail and context for a more accurate, global temperature dataset.

 

“We’re really excited about the possibilities for fine-scale, community-focused climate-health data analyses that this dataset can support. We’re excited to see researchers use it,” said co-author Kathryn Grace.

 

CO2 Emissions Mapped for Entire U.S. Landscape

To Help Improve Policymaking

 

A NASA-funded researcher has published results he says details greenhouse gas emissions across the entire U.S. landscape at high space- and time-resolution, with details on economic sector, fuel and combustion process.

 


Northern Arizona University Professor Kevin Gurney, who specializes in atmospheric science, ecology and public policy, has spent several years developing a standardized system, as part of the Vulcan Project that quantifies and visualizes greenhouse gases emitted throughout the entire country. The measurements can be taken down to individual power plants, neighborhoods, areas of land and roadways, identifying problem areas and enabling better decisions about where to cut emissions.

 

Leading up to the nationwide study, which is now published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Gurney produced emissions maps of several different large cities, including the Los Angeles megacity, Indianapolis, the Washington, D.C./Baltimore metropolitan area and Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

Gurney developed the high-resolution emissions map as an effective tool for scientific and policy applications. He says his goal is to provide policymakers throughout the nation with a means to strategically address problem areas instead of taking an inefficient and costly approach.

 

“We’re providing U.S. policymakers at national, state and local scales with a scalpel instead of a hammer,” he said. “Policies that might be relevant to California are possibly less relevant for Chicago or New York. They need to have information that reflects their unique conditions but follows a rigorous, standardized scientific approach. In this way, they can have confidence in the numbers which, in turn, will stimulate smart investment in reducing emissions.”

 

A strength of Gurney’s approach is validation by atmospheric monitoring of CO2 from ground-based and satellite instruments.

 

“By synthesizing the detail of building and road-scale emissions with the independence and accuracy of atmospheric monitoring, we have the best possible estimate of emissions with the most policy-relevant detail,” Gurney said.

 

Data from the Vulcan mapping project is available on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Data Archive. Additional imagery is available on the Vulcan website.

 

Scientists Show Climate-Adapted Plant Breeding

 

Using a combination of new molecular and statistical methods, a research team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was able to show that material from gene banks can be used to improve traits in the corn plant.

 


The findings show that old varieties can be used to breed new varieties adapted to current and future climates.

 

A renowned seed vault in Spitsbergen, Norway, and national gene banks retain hundreds of thousands of seed samples to preserve old varieties of crop plants and the genetic diversity associated with them. Researchers around the globe are investigating whether retained samples contain genes that have been lost through breeding which could be beneficial in counteracting climate change.

 

A research team led by Chris-Carolin Schön, professor of plant breeding at the TUM, is now presenting a solution to harness the genetic potential of old varieties, so-called landraces.

 

Since the 1960s, corn has been grown in Europe’s fields mainly in the form of hybrid varieties, which are developed through a specific breeding scheme and, for example, are “trimmed” for high yield per acre or low susceptibility to pests.

 

In order to breed the best variety, a kit of characteristics is needed that could be relevant both today and in the future. Thus, genetic diversity is the basic prerequisite for breeding improved crop plants.

 

Hybrid varieties, however, carry only a small selection of traits compared to old varieties, the landraces. The question then is whether in addition to undesirable traits, beneficial traits have been lost in the course of many breeding generations.

 

As a result, the call for landraces has recently been revived, as they are characterized by high biodiversity and are considered a natural source of new genetic variation for breeding. Genetic variation reflects different variants of a gene and can be recognized by differences in the plant’s appearance.

 

The early development of young plants is of particular importance in times of climate change, researchers note. Drought and heat are the conditions most damaging to crops such as corn when the conditions occur during flowering. When a plant can be cultivated early in the year because it can cope with cold, it has already left its flowering period behind when temperatures are particularly high in summer. This means that it is less damaged and yield losses can be avoided.

 

Schön and her colleagues have been examining landrace varieties for cold tolerance characteristics, developing a genome-based method of identifying and making targeted use of beneficial gene resources. After a preliminary study, in which the researchers identified the genetic differences of individual varieties, they selected three landraces for cultivation in different locations with varying climatic conditions within Europe.

 

The research team focused on traits related to early plant development and also took into account the stability of the plant (How well does it withstand wind?) and the growth form (straight or bushy?). Using molecular methods that scan the entire genome, they were able to link the data from the field trials to genes relevant to the specific traits.

 

“We have shown how to find new genetic variation for important traits in agricultural production. The variation in these traits is determined by many genes and is not sufficiently available in current breeding material,” says Manfred Mayer, lead author of the study. “This opens the door to the development of improved climate-adapted hybrid varieties.”

 

 

Other News We Are Reading…

 

A Bipartisan Climate Policy Could Happen Under Biden Administration

(Inside Climate News)

 

Many environmentalists hoped that Joe Biden would become the FDR of climate change. But as Biden emerges as the winner of a deeply divisive presidential election, in which the Republican Party retains control of the Senate, it is more likely he will need the skills of an LBJ. And climate policy, in a Biden era, could end up looking more like President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s hard-fought civil rights legislation than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sweeping New Deal, say veterans of Washington’s energy policy battles. When Biden campaigned on a $2 trillion climate plan, the most ambitious ever proposed by a major party candidate, the Democrats were aiming to pick up the three Senate seats they needed for a majority that would support Biden’s plan. And although that is still a distant possibility, the results from Tuesday’s election so far show Republicans have held onto contested seats in Maine, Montana, Iowa and South Carolina, and remain ahead in Alaska and North Carolina. (Read more…)

 

Renewable Fuels Legislation Could Garner Bipartisan Support Under Biden

(Reuters)

 

Renewable fuels are a niche market for now, but with Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden set to enter office with a divided Congress, legislation supporting demand for products like ethanol and renewable diesel could garner bipartisan support. Biden, elected president after defeating Republican Donald Trump, has pledged to move the United States to a zero-carbon emissions scheme by 2050. Under a divided Congress, however, ambitious plans to tackle rising emissions may be put on ice. Renewable fuels, however, may be different: their development is supported by some in both the oil and green energy industries. “I don’t see any reason why a divided Congress would have a problem encouraging renewable fuels, as it affects key states that Democrats and Republicans are motivated in,” said Bill Barnes, director of energy consultancy Pisgah Partners. (Read more…)

 

EPA Administrator: RFS Waiver Requests to Wait on Court Appeal

(AgPro)

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering 35 oil refiner requests to waive required blending of renewable fuels, namely ethanol, for the 2019 and 2020 calendar years, according to reporting data on the EPA website. Those waiver requests will not be considered until the courts weigh in on a pending court appeal, according to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The Tenth Circuit Federal Appeals Court in January ruled EPA could not grant Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) waivers for refiners whose earlier, temporary waivers had lapsed. The oil industry has since appealed that ruling. Wheeler said on the AgriTalk Radio Show Nov. 2 that he will not consider those waiver requests until after the courts have spoken on that appeal. (Read more…)

 

Climate Change Sets a Drought Trap for U.S. Corn (E&E News)

 

U.S. corn production is booming as Midwestern farmers adopt new technologies and methods that mitigate bad weather, destructive pests and weeds. But the long-term outlook isn’t rosy. New research published in Nature Food shows corn is becoming more vulnerable to drought, a finding with major implications for annual corn yields, given scientists’ predictions that climate change will intensify poor weather conditions. “What is clear,” the researchers found, “is that despite robust corn yields, the cost of drought and global demand for corn are rising simultaneously.” (Read more…)

 

What Type of Forest to Choose For Better CO2 Storage?

 

An international team led by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) has studied which types of forest, in terms of biodiversity, are the most effective in storing carbon. Inventory data from natural forests on five continents show that species diversity is optimal for equatorial and tropical rainforests, and that, conversely, in forests located in cold or dry regions, it is the abundance of trees and not their diversity that favors the recapture of CO2. The results of the study, published in

Nature Communications, are valuable in defining natural strategies to combat climate change. (Read more…)

 

Expect More Mega-Droughts (Science Daily)

 

Mega-droughts – droughts that last two decades or longer – are tipped to increase thanks to climate change, according to University of Queensland-led research. UQ’s Professor Hamish McGowan said the findings suggested climate change would lead to increased water scarcity, reduced winter snow cover, more frequent bushfires and wind erosion. The revelation came after an analysis of geological records from the Eemian Period – 129,000 to 116,000 years ago – which offered a proxy of what we could expect in a hotter, drier world. (Read more…)

 

Warming Of 2°C Would Release Billions of Tons of Soil Carbon

(Nature Communications)

 

Global soils contain two to three times more carbon than the atmosphere, and higher temperatures speed up decomposition – reducing the amount of time carbon spends in the soil. The new international research study reveals the sensitivity of soil carbon turnover to global warming and subsequently halves uncertainty about this in future climate change projections. The estimated 230 billion tons of carbon released at 2 degrees C warming (above pre-industrial levels) is more than four times the total emissions from China, and more than double the emissions from the United States, over the last 100 years. “Our study rules out the most extreme projections – but nonetheless suggests substantial soil carbon losses due to climate change at only 2-degrees C warming, and this doesn’t even include losses of deeper permafrost carbon,” said co-author Sarah Chadburn, of the University of Exeter, which led the study.

(Read more…)

 

One-Two Punch: The Effects of Repeated Droughts on Different Forests

(The Current)

 

Drought is endemic to the American West along with heatwaves and intense wildfires. But scientists are only beginning to understand how the effects of multiple droughts can compound to affect forests differently than a single drought alone. A team comprised of researchers from the University of Utah, University of California – Santa Barbara, Stanford University and the U.S. Forest Service – investigated the effects of repeated, extreme droughts on various types of forests across the globe. They found that a variety of factors can increase and decrease a forest’s resilience to subsequent droughts. However, the study, published in Nature Climate Change, concluded that successive droughts are generally increasingly detrimental to forests, even when each drought was no more extreme than the initial one. (Read more…)

 

 

Partner News and Events

Co-Optima Initiative Issues Call for White Papers,

Offers Funding for Work with National Labs

 

The Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative is seeking proposals to leverage National Laboratory resources and overcome key technical challenges to advancing new liquid fuels and blendstocks, with an emphasis on biofuels from renewable and waste resources, which enable higher efficiency and lower environmental impact engines in on-highway vehicles.

 


Co-Optima focuses on developing new high-performance fuels that, when combined with advanced combustion approaches, can boost engine efficiency and cut emissions.

 

Proposals should address specific technical challenges and barriers that Co-Optima researchers can address to move new fuels closer to market in conjunction with advanced, high-efficiency engines.

 

This Directed Funding Opportunity (DFO) seeks proposals advancing the aims of Co-Optima, including foundational and applied research and development (R&D) at the fuel-engine interface

 

This call seeks proposals to advance foundational knowledge at the fuel-engine interface, as well as applied R&D focused on advancing technologies that move promising bio-blendstocks and combustion approaches identified in Co-Optima closer to commercial adoption.

 

We are interested in proposals seeking to utilize any one or more of the capabilities listed at cooptima.org.

 

All U.S. domestic for-profit or non-profit businesses interested in Co-Optima goals and objectives in advancing fuel-engine Co-Optimization are eligible. Foreign entities, whether for-profit or otherwise, including U.S. incorporated subsidiaries with a foreign-owned parent company, are eligible to apply; however, a waiver request will be required. Approval of this waiver is subject to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) discretion and is necessary to complete the CRADA contract. All project work under this DFO must be performed in the United States (100 percent of all direct labor).

 

To apply, industry applicants are asked to submit a white paper project proposal (find the template here) by email to [email protected]. All submissions should be no more than 12 pages total in length and should succinctly describe the technical problem, the approach to developing a solution, what Co-Optima capabilities are needed, why DOE resources are necessary, and the anticipated impact towards increasing adoption of biomass-derived fuels.

 

The timeline for the co-optima directed funding opportunity includes the week of November 30, which will include industry-requested teleconferences where potential proposers can interact with all Co-Optima researchers interested in collaboration with that particular company. On Dec. 3, a webinar describing the Co-Optima DFO opportunity, with the proposals submission deadline set for 5 p.m. ET, Jan. 14, 2021. The anticipated final selection decisions and notifications are expected on March 1, with project kickoffs anticipated for May 1.

 

Register HERE for the Dec. 3rd webinar at 4 p.m.ET.

 

Selected project awards are anticipated to be funded at $250,000 of Co-Optima National Laboratory assistance over a project duration of 12-18 months. Co-Optima anticipates a total of four funded projects as part of this DFO. Industry partners will fund their own labor, materials, and other expenses directly, which contribute toward a 20 percent minimum cost-share requirement. Contractual terms will be managed through a non-negotiable, pre-established Co-Optima Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

 

Go here for more information about Co-Optima capabilities, or contact the Co-Optima program [email protected]

 

In Memoriam

 

Flinchbaugh Leaves an Unparalleled Ag Policy Legacy

 

Barry Flinchbaugh, an ag policy veteran and a founding leader of the 25x’25 renewable energy alliance and Solutions from the Land, passed away early this month.

 

Barry Flinchbaugh

Formally, Flinchbaugh was a highly regarded ag economist – a professor emeritus in the agricultural economics department of Kansas State University, a school where he served for nearly 50 years. But he also was a force of nature in farm policy circles, bearing a profile among industry and political leaders that was considerably bigger than his somewhat diminutive frame.

 

A leading expert on agricultural policy and agricultural economics, Flinchbaugh was a top adviser to politicians of both major political parties for more than four decades. He counseled secretaries of agriculture, chairs of the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture committees, and numerous senators and state governors. He was involved to some degree in every U.S. farm bill written since 1968, and served on many national boards, advisory groups and task forces, providing input on domestic food and agricultural policy.

 

A fuller account of Flinchbaugh’s illustrious career can be found HERE on the Kansas State website.

 

He was a founder and steering committee member of the 25x’25 Alliance, a farmer-driven initiative promoting the role of renewable energy – biomass and biofuels, geothermal energy, solar power, wind energy and hydropower -generated by our farms, ranches and rural areas.

 

Calling Flinchbaugh “a longtime friend and colleague,” SfL President Ernie Shea cited the educator’s “instrumental role in crafting the strategies we used to build multi-stakeholder support for our vision, including SfL. His analysis of the political landscape we navigated through was invaluable.”

 

Read Smith, a Washington state grain farmer and a longtime Co-Chair of 25x’25, said, “Barry’s counsel was always grounded, enthusiastic and sometimes impatient, educating agricultural leaders in political reality. Barry, while chomping his unlit cigars, brought to mind the old television commercials of former investment firm EF Hutton: ‘When he talked, people listened.’

 

“We, the leadership of 25x’25 and SFL, will carry with us forever Barry’s humorous anecdotes, dry wit and polished, insightful analysis of a huge variety of subjects,” Smith said.

 

AG Kawamura, an SfL Co-Chair and a NACSAA Steering Committee member who served with Flinchbaugh on the original 25x’25 Steering Committee when the alliance was founded 15 years ago, said the renowned ag economist “educated and enlightened generations of students and audiences as one of our nation’s premier ‘wise old owls’ of agriculture. His no-nonsense observations on the future of farming were delivered with a straightforward wit and clarity that we will sorely miss.”

 

Another early 25x’25 Steering Committee member, Don Villwock, who retired as president of the Indiana Farm Bureau, called Flinchbaugh “an inspirational leader [who] changed all of our lives. He was able to tip toe through the political giants’ mine fields like no other. He had the respect of leaders on both sides of the aisle. We all lost a great friend and mentor.”

 

Len Bull, a Professor Emeritus in Animal Science at North Carolina State University, where he was co-director of the school’s Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center, also served with Flinchbaugh while advancing the 25x’25 goal. He said Flinchbaugh’s passing is marked with “a sense of great loss of one of the true commonsense leaders in our world. He was one of those folks who told it like he saw it and did so with a style that was always respected, regardless if you agreed or not.”

 

“Agriculture lost a wonderful friend and teacher,” said Ohio farmer Bill Richards, another early member of the 25x’25 Steering Committee. Richards said that as an economist involved in a number of agricultural initiatives, Flinchbaugh was a champion of the working farmer and had a “great vision of the future.” The economist was “well respected by any who came in contact with him,” Richards said, adding that he was “really torn” over the loss of a good friend.

 

Academics and political leaders alike offered their respects to the veteran economist.

 

Kansas State University President Richard Myers. “His expertise and vast contributions to the university, the state and agricultural economics will have a lasting impact on the world for years to come through those whom he taught and counseled.”

 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Flinchbaugh “helped shape agriculture policy for more than a half-century” and “leaves behind a legacy as a Kansan who improved the livelihoods of Kansas farmers, ranchers, producers – and agriculture workers across the nation.”

 

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, who has chaired both the House and Senate Ag Committees over his nearly 30 years in Congress and worked closely with Flinchbaugh on farm bill legislation, wrote his condolences on Twitter. The veteran congressman called the economist “nothing short of a legend in his field. His expertise made him one of the most coveted and trusted advisers for agricultural policy for decades. I will not only miss his guidance, but I will also miss his friendship, wit and humor.”