Reality check: How’s the transition to regenerative agriculture going?

May 19, 2022 by  
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Our food analyst got her hands dirty on a real farm in Minnesota to see what’s actually happening with the farming transition.

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Reality check: How’s the transition to regenerative agriculture going?

As climate fears mount, people choose to relocate

May 19, 2022 by  
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As wildfires worsen and sea levels rise, a small but growing number of Americans are choosing to move to places seen as safe havens from climate change.

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As climate fears mount, people choose to relocate

Agriculture companies are key to achieving sustainable development goals

May 19, 2022 by  
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The World Benchmarking Alliance used its first Food and Agriculture Benchmark to measure impact of food and agriculture companies.

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Agriculture companies are key to achieving sustainable development goals

What’s hot in corporate renewable energy procurement

May 19, 2022 by  
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What’s inside the Clean Energy Buyer Association’s latest ‘State of the Market’ report.

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What’s hot in corporate renewable energy procurement

Stone Road grows sustainable cannabis on a biodynamic farm

February 23, 2022 by  
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Stone Road is not just any cannabis grower — is a sustainable operation with unique products. You may have tried cannabis by now in one of its many forms, but have you tried sustainable cannabis grown on an off-grid biodynamic farm? What about cannabis made into sauce or sugar packaged in recyclable plastic-free wrapping? Yeah, Stone Road is all the way sustainable like that. Stone Road is a queer-run, California-based grower and producer of sustainably grown cannabis products for “a new age of conscious consumers.” Stone Road flower is sun-grown on a 57-acre, off-grid biodynamic farm in Nevada City, California . This isn’t just good for the planet, it also ensures that each joint is “potent, pure and hand-rolled with love.” Related: We need to talk about the environmental impact of marijuana The brand aims to keep cannabis affordable. Unlike many new cannabis websites that use THC and CBD to create edibles, Stone Road sells straight joints, loose flower and a few unique products like cannabis sauce and cannabis sugar. “Stone Road is reimagining what affordable cannabis products can look, taste and feel like for a new generation of smokers,” the company said in a press release. “All Stone Road packaging is 99% recyclable and made from 100% post-consumer recycled goods so you can feel good about feeling good.” In 2016, founder Lex Corwin created Stone Road to be a queer-led family brand that focuses on accessibility, affordability and style. Corwin worked as a co-manager of a cannabis boutique in Portland, Oregon , working in the medical and legal cannabis space in cultivation, manufacturing and distribution. Now, Stone Road is one of the fastest-growing cannabis companies in the California and Oklahoma markets, with products available in over 120 retail outlets in California and 55 in Oklahoma. A New York expansion is on the way, too. The farm is seven hours north of Los Angeles, operating with only a half-acre worth of greenhouses on a 57-acre parcel. This keeps most of the land rural. “All of our water is straight from an artesian well, 460-feet-deep, at the ideal 6.4ph, which allows us to water straight from the earth,” Stone Road states on its website. You can visit the farm from May to September if you call ahead. Stone Road is also working to develop a sugarcane-based biodegradable bioplastic to shrink-wrap their joint boxes. The company has been working to bring as much of the operation in-house as possible, including packaging. It’s sustainable farming on a level rarely seen. Elaborating on the brand’s farming processes, the Stone Road website explains, “We utilize living soil to create mini ecosystems in each bed where our ladies live. The soil is an amalgamation of living organisms that creates natural pest barriers and encourages healthy plant growth. We never treat our plants with synthetic products – even if they are organically occurring – instead opting to use nature’s intended resources — ladybugs, predator mites, and a medley of beneficial fungi.” + Stone Road Images via Stone Road

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Stone Road grows sustainable cannabis on a biodynamic farm

Earth911 Podcast: Cloud-based Vertical Farming With Babylon Micro-Farms

January 21, 2022 by  
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Our guest is Alexander Olesen, CEO and founder of Babylon Micro-Farms. The Richmond, Va.-based company… The post Earth911 Podcast: Cloud-based Vertical Farming With Babylon Micro-Farms appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Cloud-based Vertical Farming With Babylon Micro-Farms

Rainfall prediction app helps Indonesias farmers

December 27, 2021 by  
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A new rainfall app is helping  farmers  in Indonesia’s Sumbawa Island navigate climate change. A collaboration between  Bandung Institute of Technology ,  USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance  and an international development nonprofit called  World Neighbors  is giving farmers important data on maximizing their crops. In the past, the farmers in Dompu Regency have relied on natural signs and astronomical calculations to determine the best planting times. But  climate change  is throwing off generations of traditional knowledge as weather — especially rainfall — has become less predictable. Misjudging the best planting time can lead to financial ruin. The new rainfall app, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, aims to help farmers determine the best time to plant. Related: Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests In  Indonesia , a regency is an administrative division within a province. Dompu Regency contains many small family farms, with corn being the major crop. The land is sloping, and the farmers use dryland farming techniques, which means cultivating crops without irrigation in places that usually get less than 20 inches of annual rainfall. Every drop is precious. Inhabitat talked to Edd Wright, World Neighbors’ regional director for Southeast Asia, about the development and uptake of the new rainfall app. Wright manages the Indonesian programs focusing on climate change adaptation and sustainable  agriculture . Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about the individuals behind the development of this app. Wright:  Dr. Armi Susandi, MT. (born 4 September 1969) is an Indonesian scientist and lecturer. He is an expert on  weather  and climate who teaches at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). Armi Susandi also serves as Chair II of the National Council on Climate Change, a state institution established based on a presidential decree with the task of coordinating policies and efforts to deal with climate change. His idea to create a climate change disaster early warning technology emerged in 2002, while studying at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado, United States. Armi Susandi then earned his doctorate in climate change from the University of Hamburg, Germany in 2004. Since then, he has created several  technologies  regarding early warning of climate change disasters, such as Forest Fire Management System, Flood Early Warning and Early Action System, Dynamic Management and Information Services for Fisheries, Smart Agriculture Information System, Smart Information System for Search And Rescue, amongst others. Inhabitat: How widespread are smartphones in Dompu Regency? Do most farmers have one, or access to somebody else’s? Wright:  According to  Indonesia Baik ,  smartphone  ownership in Nusa Tenggara (the province where the regency of Dompu is) reaches 45%. Based on observations, young farmers in Dompu have smartphones, while older farmers usually do not. Farmers who do not have smartphones, they will access weather information via smartphones from the agriculture extension workers, other farmers, their children or other family members. Inhabitat: What was farmers’ initial reaction to the app, and how has that changed over time? Wright:  For farmers who have never applied  rainfall  prediction (PCH), at first they doubted PCH. Many farmers have not dared to adopt PCH because they are worried that if the prediction is wrong, in the end, the farmers themselves will suffer losses. However, after a process of sharing experiences with farmers who have implemented PCH, some of these farmers finally carried out a trial planting. When this trial turned out to be good, more and more farmers followed began to trust the tools. For farmers who have used the analogue version of PCH (printed maps), there is no difficulty for them in implementing the  digital  version of PCH (app). There are only technical issues such as availability of smartphones and poor signal quality. Inhabitat: Do you have any specific stories about how farmers altered their behavior because of info gleaned from the app? Wright:  Haji Safrudin, a farmer from Karamabura Village, Dompu Regency, used to use natural signs, namely the appearance of the peak of the tamarind  tree  to determine when the planting season arrives. “In the past we used tamarind trees as an indicator of the arrival of the rainy season,” he said. “If the shoots of the leaves appear, it is a sign that the rainy season will soon come. To predict the planting season is over, we observe the kapok tree. If the kapok starts to dry, then that is a sign not to plant again.” Since the intervention of World Neighbors, Safrudin now always checks his smartphone to see the rain prediction before  planting . Sometimes he even deliberately did it in front of other farmers, so they could see for themselves. Safrudin and his friends now no longer see the peaks of tamarind trees to start planting. But the planting time is done by looking at the PCH application on their smartphones. Inhabitat: Can you describe a typical training session — where are they held, how many people attend, who are the presenters, what transpires? Wright:  Local  government  and community buy-in begins during the initial building of the tools, a process that relies on data collection on historical rainfall patterns, past hydrometeorological disasters, annual yields from multiple sources, including the Agriculture Agency and individual village governments. Based on previous experience, by the time the tools have been created and are ready for dissemination, the Agriculture Field Extension Agency will be fully on-board. Regency-level workshops involving all related government agencies are then held. These workshops introduce the tools to regency level authorities and are followed with a full training program that includes a training of trainers (ToT) targeting extension workers and local NGO partners, carried out by Bandung Institute of Technology and World Neighbors. This training covers climate change and its impact on agriculture; the importance of weather predictions in the context of climate change; understanding the modelling results; features of the climate-smart agriculture digital tools; strategies for sharing the data with farmers and  community  organizing; and preparation of follow-up plans. When extension  workers  are fully conversant in the tools, World Neighbors staff accompany them to socialize the new knowledge and skills to farmer groups. This happens in three stages. The first stage is to create a dialogue with village leaders on how their traditional knowledge and local wisdom is used in determining the start of the wet season and planting times; discussion on its suitability with the current real conditions they experience, and to then introduce them to new methods of rainfall prediction. Through this dialogue, the strengths of local wisdom and the new technologies are combined and accepted, rather than being viewed as in competition. Once there is acceptance from these leaders, the second phase is to share the tools with the farmer groups. These training sessions cover  climate change , its impact on agriculture, the importance of learning new technologies as a complement to local wisdom; and sharing the monthly rainfall prediction modeling results for the next 12 months. By the end of the training, agreements are made with the farmers who decide to commit to applying the recommendations from the modelling tools. After this initial training, the third stage is to assist these farmers in their application; continue to convince those who are still hesitant; and monitor the planting times and types of plants planted; record crop yields and compare results between adopters and non-adopters. Inhabitat: Do you plan to expand this app program to other parts of Indonesia, or for other countries in which you work? Wright:  Currently this app program is implemented in five regencies of Indonesia – Dompu, Central Lombok, East Lombok, West Lombok and Nagekeo. If  funding  allows, we plan to extend it to another four regencies in eastern Indonesia. + Edd Wright, World Neighbors Images via World Neighbors

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Rainfall prediction app helps Indonesias farmers

Earth911 Podcast: Climate Crisis Lessons From the Struggle Against Industrial Agribusiness

September 27, 2021 by  
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Earth911’s Mitch Ratcliffe talks with authors Daniel O’Connell and Scott Peters about their book In… The post Earth911 Podcast: Climate Crisis Lessons From the Struggle Against Industrial Agribusiness appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Climate Crisis Lessons From the Struggle Against Industrial Agribusiness

New bill regulating carbon offset market could attract farmers

July 9, 2021 by  
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Some farmers are turning to carbon capture to make cash outside of traditional farming practices. A new Senate bill could help attract even more farmers to these programs. One farmer taking part in carbon capture programs is Kelly Garrett, a western Iowa farmer who runs a 7,000-acre farm. Traditionally, Garrett has farmed corn and soybeans, but he began incorporating carbon-sequestering processes for income last year. Since contacting Nori, a carbon-market broker, Garrett has earned $150,000 through carbon capture in his soil . Although Garrett’s farm was already ripe for carbon harvesting when he started, it’s difficult to estimate the actual amount of carbon stored.  Related: Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere reach record high Quantifying the amount of carbon absorbed by farmers has been a big challenge since these programs began. After all, as a report by Grist explains, the carbon offset market “is built on the idea that money will persuade someone, somewhere, to remove  additional   carbon dioxid e from the air.” Critics argue that most carbon offset projects do not work and instead allow corporations to pay money to avoid taking responsibility for their pollution.  The first offset scheme started in 1989 when AES Corporation sought to build a carbon-neutral coal -fired power plant north of New London, Connecticut. The company paid about $2 million to small farmers to plant about 50 million trees that were supposed to absorb all CO2 emissions produced by the plant over 40 years. Although the project worked to some extent, most farmers ended up cutting the trees before the 40 years were up. To address the lack of regulation in carbon offset markets, the U.S. Senate passed a bill last month to get the federal government fully involved. The Growing Climate Solutions Act could help hold corporations responsible and provide farmers with the support needed to adopt practices they have been reluctant to try for years. However, this all depends on how the bill is enacted. Again, critics worry that this carbon offset process falls short of actually helping the environment. “The atmosphere might not be winning here,” said Lauren Gifford, a geographer at the University of Arizona who has studied carbon policy. “But these carbon offsets have provided a very fruitful funding source for conservation .” Via Grist Lead image via Pexels

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New bill regulating carbon offset market could attract farmers

NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants

November 3, 2017 by  
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In its quest to sustainably serve the needs of urban farmers , NexLoop  found inspiration for its water management system in the natural world. Seeking to create a system that is self-sufficient and adaptable to local needs, the NexLoop team observed the ability of cribellate orb weaver spiders to craft webs that capture water from fog in the air. The team then incorporated this design into their system, called the AquaWeb, to passively capture water from the atmosphere. The biomimetically-designed AquaWeb incorporates ideas from fungi, bees, and plants to create a naturally-inspired solution to the complex human problem of growing food. For its work, NexLoop was awarded the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and the Biomimicry Institute. After determining how water capture would work, the team looked at drought-tolerant plants such as the crystalline ice plant to learn how it effectively stores water to survive in dry areas and applied these lessons to the AquaWeb’s storage system. As for distribution of this water, the team studied fungi , which are essential organisms in places like forests where mycorrhizal fungal networks transport water and nutrients to trees that need them. As for a solid structure, the team incorporated the hexagonal shape of honey bee nests. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry The AquaWeb seeks to meet the needs of a global community that is increasingly urban . The global population is expected rise to at least 9 billion by 2050, 70 percent of which will live in cities. This historic shift towards urban living will require adoption of food systems that are locally based, resilient, and efficient in its use of resources. AquaWeb’s passive capture and storage of rainwater is a key feature for stability in a world increasingly plagued by extreme weather. As part of the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize, the NexLoop team received $100,000 to promote and refine its design. The second place prize was awarded to Team Windchill, which designed an electricity-free refrigerator based on animal temperature regulation, while the third place prize went to Team Evolution’s Solutions, which invented a food waste nutrient recycling and supply system aimed to help hydroponic farmers . + Biomimicry Institute Images via NexLoop and Depositphotos

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NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants

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