Datu’s Sarah Mine convened leaders in soil health for a panel session, “Documenting the Economic Benefits of Soil Health Management for Farmers.” The panel included informative presentations by Deborah Atwood, AGree; Neil Conklin, Soil Renaissance; Rich Duesterhaus, National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD); and Nick Goeser, Soil Health Partnership.
We are pleased to welcome Phillemon Mushi, Principle Agricultural Field Officer at the Arusha-based Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), which operates under the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Cooperatives.
We are pleased to welcome Ingrid Mujica, an economist with experience in research and policy analysis to promote international economic development, social upgrading and environmental sustainability. She has worked with a number of donor organizations including USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, DFID and CRS.
Monica La, Research Analyst Datu Research LLC
The UN has designated 2015 the International Year of Soils, an effort to bring attention to the long overlooked role and value of soils in addressing many of the world’s challenges, including providing for more productive and healthier food production, building resilience against erosion, nutrient loss, and drought, supporting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers with improved production and more efficient use of inputs, and even as a sink for excess carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change…
Conservation agriculture can create far-reaching environmental and economic benefits, yet farmers may need help bearing the short-term risks and costs. This study asks if two actors in the Iowa corn value chain—landowners and insurance providers—could be tapped to support practices such as no-till, cover cropping, and crop rotation.
The authors flag an important obstacle to wider adoption: the time lag farmers face before their yields increase, which in some cases could take years. To further develop economic incentives for farmers, the study recommends systematic research on the yield effects of conservation agriculture.
At present, the study found that 23% of Iowa respondents were using cover crops, mostly on fewer than 100 acres, suggesting that farmers may be trying them out before committing to adoption on a larger scale.
•Iowa Farmer Today
•National Wildlife Federation
•Big Picture Agriculture
•The Grand Isle Independent
•Iowa Environmental Focus
•Twin Cities Daily Planet
Thanks to impressive gains won by years of effort by government, NGOs, and the beef industry itself, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has dropped considerably, falling nearly 80%. Yet sharp increases in demand from non-Western countries—highlighted by Russia’s recent embargo of Western beef—have increased demand for Brazilian beef by over 10%. This threatens to slow or even reverse hard-won progress by expanding markets that do not require deforestation-free operations.
Economic realities are an added threat for ranchers, who report that deforestation-free operations can double their production costs. Implementing a pasture management system on 145 hectares costs R2,000 (US7,000), nearly double the R7,500 cost to clear forest for beef production. Faced with falling profits, ranchers have two options: revert to deforestation, or dedicate some of their land to producing other commodities. Several Pará ranchers interviewed for the study plan to grow oil palm, taking advantage of at least three public incentive programs. Brazilian oil palm production is expected to more than double by 2020.
1-10% of U.S. natural gas escapes into the atmosphere instead of reaching the end consumer. The resulting methane emissions contribute powerfully to climate change, with each molecule of methane holding 84 times the warming potential of a molecule of carbon dioxide. An emerging industry of U.S. firms manufactures the equipment and services needed to control methane emissions—providing climate protection, creating jobs, and saving the oil and gas industry billions of dollars each year.
•New York Times
•Houston Business Journal
•Politico Morning Energy
•Akron Beacon Journal
•The Business Journal Daily
•Natural Gas Intelligence
•Colorado News Connection
•Texas Energy Report
•The Energy Collective
•Denver Business Journal
Soil Health Advocates – Promoting and Documenting the Benefits of Soil Health Management
A body of research shows the benefits of practices such as strip/no till, cover cropping and crop rotation. Some of these practices can be successful under certain soil and climate conditions, but not in others. More information is needed on what works well and under what conditions. Also, detailed economic and cost benefit information is needed. This project will overcome barriers and significantly increase the number of farmed acres nationwide that are successfully managed for soil health, appropriate to local conditions.
Regional Media Coverage:
•The Times-Picayune 1
•The Times-Picayune 2
•Field & Stream
•The Brownsville (TX) Herald
•Mississippi Business Journal Business Blog
•The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
•The Bradeton (FL) Herald
•The (Biloxi) Sun Herald
•Louisiana Radio Network