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climate change

Conservation Tools Help Producers Make Positive Impacts on Changing Climate

America’s farmers and ranchers are helping put the nation on track to a healthier and more resilient environment in the face of a changing climate. While agriculture only contributes 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, it offers a variety of opportunities to reduce emissions and cut carbon from the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is committed to help producers become even better conservation stewards by providing the tools they need to do the job.

USDA Southeast Climate Hub Workshop Discusses Salinization Impacts: What is Known and What is Not Known to Address Them

Trees and crops are experiencing stress, productivity loss and even death in coastal areas due to saltwater intrusion and salinization. For example, Somerset County, Maryland has been losing farmland to salt marsh migration at a rate of 100 acres per year over the last 10 years, and that amount is expected to increase significantly in the next few decades.

Climate Smart Conservation Partnership Serves Two Scoops of On-Farm Solutions

Eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream may make you feel guilty about your waistline, but thanks to a new partnership between the ice cream company and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), you may be able to feel less guilty about contributing to climate change. The partnership is designed to help Ben & Jerry’s milk suppliers—generally small dairies—understand their greenhouse gas footprint and consider voluntary conservation approaches to reduce that footprint.

NRCS and Ben & Jerry’s will help dairies implement conservation practices that meet Ben & Jerry’s objective of “Happy Cows, Happy Planet, & Happy Farmers.” Through its Caring Dairy sustainability program, Ben & Jerry’s will use USDA’s suite of greenhouse gas estimation tools, COMET-FarmTM and COMET-PlannerTM, to quantify on-farm GHG emissions and reductions. The COMET tools—COMET stands for CarbOn Management & Emissions Tool – are a product of a long-standing partnership between NRCS and Colorado State University.

Interactive Online Resource to Learn about Climate Change Adaptation

The Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) has recently released a new education resource on climate change adaptation responses to help the USDA Forest Service, USDA Climate Hubs, other agencies, and the general public learn more about responding to a changing climate.  The CCRC is an online, nationally-relevant resource that connects land managers and decision-makers with credible, relevant, and useable science to address climate change in natural resource planning and application.

Natural resource managers are already observing changes in their forests and rangelands and experiencing challenges managing these lands in a changing climate.  In order to continue to maintain healthy forests and rangelands into the future, land managers need to understand how to address these challenges and respond to climate change effects.  This requires that managers assess the vulnerabilities and risks associated with climate change and choose the best course of action for the landscapes they manage.

Helping Farmers Adapt to Extreme Weather and a Changing Climate

Changes in climate and more extreme weather are already increasing challenges for agriculture and natural resource managers nationally and globally.  Many of these challenges are expected to continue into the future.

A new USDA report Adaptation Resources for Agriculture: Responding to Climate Variability and Change in the Midwest and Northeast provides educators and advisors information, perspective and resources to help farmers in the region prepare for, cope with and recover from the adverse impacts of a changing climate. Developed collaboratively by scientists, conservationists and educators, the report translates the best available climate science into usable resources for making climate-informed decisions.

Unique Conservation Partnership Helps Create Win-Win Situation

By keeping their grasslands intact, two Colorado ranches are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting vital wildlife habitat, all while earning additional revenue.

It may seem too good to be true, but it is thanks to a unique partnership spearheaded by the Climate Action Reserve, one of North America’s leading carbon offset project registries.

With the help of a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Climate Action Reserve listed Raven’s Nest and Heartland Ranch, both owned by the Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT), as the first two grassland offset projects developed and executed under a new Grassland Project Protocol.

A Giant Crop-Scanner Is Turning Heads in Arizona

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

With its 30-ton frame and 50-foot-high catwalk, the newest scanner for measuring crop plants in Maricopa, Arizona, can be seen for miles. It looms over a tract the length of two football fields and moves along steel rails.

“When people saw this big apparatus being built here, they started asking if we were going to be looking for space aliens,” says Jeffrey W. White, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist with the Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa. Rather than studying the heavens, the scanner is measuring the individual characteristics of thousands of energy sorghum plants growing underneath it. The effort could play an outsized role in meeting the Nation’s future energy needs.

New and Improved Tools Help Adapt Forests to Changing Conditions

Changes in climate and extreme weather are already increasing challenges for forest ecosystems across the world. Many impacts are expected to remain into the future.  This means forest managers, conservationists and woodland owners continually need to address climate change to ensure forests can provide a broad array of benefits and services. The USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub and the U.S. Forest Service provide tools to help address this need.

Collaboration between scientists and managers resulted in the publication Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers. This publication provides a suite of materials enabling land managers to consider the likely effects of climate change and increase the ability of forests to cope with climate change impacts.