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Anaerobic Digestion: Beyond Waste Management

Posted by Chad Kruger | June 13, 2013

After nearly a decade of work, we’re finally ready to “show off” our achievements in improving the environmental performance of dairies. Take a look at the brief video we recently produced describing our efforts and join us in the field on July 10th!

Where are all the apple blossoms?

Posted by Chad Kruger | May 2, 2013

This weekend marks the 93rd Washington State Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee – one of the true highlight events celebrating agriculture and community in the state. And, after a few weeks of unseasonably cold temperatures, frosts, freezes and high winds, the weekend weather outlook is dazzling – sunny, mid-80s and calm! So, if you don’t have plans this weekend, come on over and enjoy a great community event in the fantastic spring weather!

Just don’t expect to see many apple blossoms. Full apple bloom was well over a week ago (see Wenatchee World). Read more »

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Why Hasn’t Spring Gotten Warmer?

Posted by Georgine Yorgey | April 23, 2013

Agriculture is a seasonal endeavor.  And so the weather during each season can profoundly impact farmers and the crops they produce.  Now, researchers at University of Idaho and Oregon State University are providing some new insights on how the seasonal climate has changed over the last century in the PNW, and how it might change over the next 50 years. Read more »

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Waiting for more data vs. acting in good faith

Posted by Chad Kruger | March 21, 2013

In the comment string of my original post Reflections on Savory, reader Rondi Lightmark asked a very legitimate set of questions:

How much closer are we going to get to catastrophes far worse than the Dust Bowl while scientists sit around and debate the merits of a new idea? Allan [Savory] has adequately demonstrated the success of his work to warrant significant support for implementing his methods on a large scale. What do we have to lose if we do? Who can answer that question?

While I responded to the comment in that post, I’ve had several similar questions raised in other settings recently so I thought this topic justified its own more general post. Do we wait for more data or act in good faith based on what we know? Here is the rub between science and action on challenging issues like climate change, soil erosion or desertification. I completely understand the frustration that it often seems as though science moves “too slowly” to enable us to respond effectively to increasingly complex global problems. On the question of climate and global carbon emissions, scientists like James Hansen (Hansen et al., 2008) have actually indicated that we may, in fact, have waited too long to take serious action and that we may be too late to curb the more detrimental global effects of a changing climate. With this in mind, it makes acting seem more urgent and often leads us to make significant societal investments in ideas that don’t have solid quantification or evaluation to support. Read more »

USDA report indicates climate change will create challenges for agriculture

Posted by Chad Kruger | March 19, 2013

USDA recently released a report that provides a comprehensive interpretive review of the scientific literature on the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the U.S. This report was undertaken in response to the soon to be released 2nd National Climate Assessment – an effort that reviews the impact of climate change on several sectors of the U.S. economy. The USDA report, entitled Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation, can be accessed from the website of the USDA’s Chief Economist .

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No-till Does Not Reverse Soil Degradation?

Posted by Andrew McGuire | March 14, 2013

A recent paper (Olson, 2013) finds a number of long-term studies were wrong about no-till practices building soil organic matter and thus sequestering carbon.  The problem, says Kenneth Olson, soil scientist at the University of Illinois, is how the studies in question measured the gains or losses in soil organic carbon (SOC; organic carbon is about 50% of soil organic matter by weight). According to Olson, these long-term studies made soil carbon measurements during or at the end of the experiments which compared the results of no-till (NT1 in figure 1) to moldboard plowing (MP). They then concluded that carbon was sequestered in the soil under no-till but not in tillage systems. The figure below represents what Olson says these studies measured. Read more »

Filed under Climate Change, Sustainability

Sorting out all of the new climate reports

Posted by Chad Kruger | March 4, 2013

If you pay any attention to the climate change topic, you are likely seeing an increasing number of headlines and announcements related to various climate change reports. In the absence of context, this seeming proliferation of reports and events could be somewhat confusing. This post is a very quick introduction on what this is all about, with information about how you can learn more.

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Reflections on Savory: The Science and the Philosophy Pt. 2

Posted by Chad Kruger | December 14, 2012

Managing Change Northwest recently brought Allan Savory of the Savory Institute to the Pacific Northwest to speak to the Washington Cattleman’s Association, the Tilth Producers of Washington, and a special workshop and keynote in Seattle for consumers. CSANR co-sponsored Savory’s PNW tour because we thought he brought a challenging message that many in our region needed to hear. Below is the second of a two-part post of my reflections on what Savory had to say when he was here.

Part 2: The Philosophy

In my previous post on this topic I shared my thoughts on the controversial nature of the science behind Allan Savory and Holistic Management (HM). In this post, I will focus on my view of the philosophical challenge Savory presented when he was here. Read more »

If climate change may benefit PNW agriculture, are farmers off the hook for reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Posted by Chad Kruger | December 11, 2012

When discussing climate change, the scientific and policy communities generally differentiate between mitigation (reducing) of carbon/greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change. While there is certainly a causal linkage between these topics, this differentiation makes general sense in that taking action along either of these courses can take place independent of action along the other. In other words, as a society, we could choose to only concern ourselves with adapting to climate change without mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions that are forcing the changing climatic conditions (eventually we won’t have a choice whether we adapt). And, generally speaking, the scientific community usually considers the decision of whether we invest in a course of action that mitigates greenhouse gas emissions to be a societal decision (hopefully informed by science). Read more »

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Frequently Asked Questions about climate change and agriculture: Part 5

Posted by Chad Kruger | November 27, 2012

I’ve made it to the fifth and final question.  I’ve been delving into the five most frequently asked questions I receive about climate change and agriculture over the past several months, and I personally think this last one is the most interesting and possibly the most important. The question is: Will climate change lead to a food system collapse?  It is also the question that we have the least scientific certainty about because it involves projecting forward into the future regarding both the climatic system and human responses. I published an article describing our early research assessing the impacts of climate change on PNW agriculture in Rural Connections last year. I also recently presented a webinar on this topic relevant to Pacific Northwest Agriculture with some of our latest research results. In this post I will highlight the limited available science on the question and identify the critical issues from a more global perspective.  Read more »

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