Farm Bureau Research Foundation Backs Study on Wetlands, Grazing

Courtesy of Peter Hecht

California Bountiful Foundation, the 501(c)(3) research organization of California Farm Bureau, has awarded a $520,000 grant to support cattle grazing research being conducted by California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt.

The study, led by Dr. Justin Luong, a Humboldt professor of rangeland resource science, aims to determine if wetlands benefit from grazing activities. It will also evaluate their impacts and determine a set of best management practices for grazing on wetlands.

The grant funds were provided to California Bountiful Foundation by the California Department of Transportation as part of an agreement settling litigation involving the Willits Bypass project on U.S. Highway 101. Caltrans created an endowment through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation for the Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands, the largest public wetlands restoration project in California.

The Cal Poly Humboldt study will investigate how rangeland agricultural practices affect wetland function.

“Our team is excited to combine field vegetation surveys and aerial imagery in collaboration with local and regional stakeholders to quantify the benefit and multi-use utility of rangeland management for biologically diverse wetland ecosystem plant communities and ecosystem services,” said Dr. Luong.

“Caltrans is pleased to be a partner in helping to fund this type of research and innovation” said Caltrans Branch Chief Jeff Swindle. “This research on wetlands possibly benefiting from grazing activities can have impacts on future management practices.”

The collaborative effort includes partnerships with Mendocino County Resource Conservation District and Mendocino County Farm Bureau.

“Mendocino County Farm Bureau’s position is that managed grazing can be compatible with wetlands,” said Devon Boer, the Farm Bureau’s executive director. “We are hopeful that this research will refute the belief that livestock cannot be part of an ecological solution.”

More information on this study can be found on the California Bountiful Foundation webpage here.

“We have not had a comprehensive research study to see firsthand what the benefits of grazing might have on specific lands,” said Dr. Amrith Gunasekara, director of Science and Research at California Bountiful Foundation. “This study is led by a fantastic team of research scientists and supported with critical partnerships.”

2023-07-12T15:12:45-07:00July 12th, 2023|

Farm Bureau President Rejects Policy of Scarcity for Agriculture

By Peter Hecht, California Farm Bureau

California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson opened the organization’s 104th Annual Meeting in Monterey Monday by calling on policymakers to build critical infrastructure to protect water resources and allow America’s most important agricultural sector to continue to thrive.

“The management of scarcity is failing,” Johansson told the gathering. “It’s time now to reimplement the management of bounty, which made California great.”

California’s nearly 70,000 farms and ranches produce more than 400 commodities as the nation’s leading food producer. But a recent University of California, Merced, study estimates that an additional 750,000 acres of farmland in the state were fallowed this year due a third year of drought and cuts in state and federal water deliveries to agriculture.

Johansson stressed that such an outcome may have been avoided had California delivered on the $7.1 billion water infrastructure bond approved by state voters in 2014. He said the state has failed to update its water system to meet the needs of California farms and communities as well as the challenges of a drier climate.

The consequences for agriculture are aggravated, Johansson said, by policies that stem from a mindset of working within the limits of scarcity—of adapting to a changing environment by paring down California’s agricultural potential.

Instead, Johansson said, new water storage and groundwater recharge projects can capture and store water in wet years for dry years and help protect and grow California’s food production.

“Change is inevitable,” Johansson said. “We understand change in agriculture. But what we struggle with is a state that doesn’t have a plan of how we make those changes based on principles.”

Johansson said, “We can continue in agriculture to make a difference, feed the world and more importantly prosper our communities.”

2022-12-06T08:38:08-08:00December 6th, 2022|

Registration Now Open for NCAT’s Latino Farmer Conference

By Emilie Ritter and Omar Rodriguez, National Center for Appropriate Technology

NCAT and NRCS partner to host the eighth Spanish-language sustainable agriculture conference

The National Center for Appropriate Technology and Natural Resources Conservation Service will partner to host the eighth annual Latino Farmer Conference, a Spanish-language sustainable agriculture conference for Latino farmers.

The Latino Farmer Conference is a yearly event that seeks to build networks and provide learning opportunities for farmers on a range of technical and social issues relating to sustainable agriculture. The conference aims to provide trusted, practical, and culturally relevant information. Each session is created based on farmer feedback, and all content is presented in Spanish.

“There are over 14,000 registered Hispanic farmers and ranchers in California, and according to the USDA, many of these farmers are historically underserved,” said NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Omar Rodriguez. “At NCAT we strive to support a farming future that is equitable and just for all of California’s farmers, and this conference is a great way to do that.”

After two years of hosting this conference online, NCAT and NRCS are happy to bring people together in person again. This year’s conference will be hosted in Escondido, California, on November 17 and 18. Activities on November 17 will consist of farm tours in the San Diego area, and will include visits to local farms, farmer cooperatives, and CSA operations. On November 18 attendees will gather at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido for a day of networking opportunities, exhibits, and presentations on topics relating to conservation, regenerative agricultural production, and business management.

The Latino Farmer Conference is hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and would not be possible without the generous donations made by partners and friends working in regenerative agriculture.

Register for the conference at: NCAT.ORG/LATINOFARMERCONFERENCE.ORG.

2022-10-21T08:32:53-07:00October 21st, 2022|

Renewable nitrogen fertilizer pioneer Nitricity raises $20 million in Series A funding

Fertilizer startup takes aim at key global challenge

Nitricity, the agtech startup revolutionizing nitrogen fertilizer production, announced today the close of its Series A investment capital raise at $20 million. This fundraising round was led by Khosla Ventures and Fine Structure Ventures with additional participation from Energy Impact Partners, Lowercarbon Capital, and MCJ Collective.

Nitricity electrifies and distributes the production of nitrogen fertilizer. The Nitricity approach uses a new technology for regionalized nutrient production using low-cost solar or wind. This marks a major difference from the existing nitrogen supply chain, which is highly centralized and uses fossil fuels and costly transportation.

“This fundraising round brings us one step closer toward sustainable and locally produced fertilizer,” said Nicolas Pinkowski, CEO and co-founder of Nitricity. “It’s time to bring this to market. We have aggressive growth plans in motion.”

With this financing, Nitricity has raised $27 million in total funding to date. This will accelerate its ability to bring climate-smart fertilizer to a market experiencing ongoing and historic fertilizer price volatility and supply challenges.

“This electrified technology provides fertilizer in a climate-smart nitrate form, designed for efficient application, allowing it to address greenhouse gas emissions beyond ammonia-based technologies,” said Joshua McEnaney, president, CTO and co-founder at Nitricity. “This is an opportunity to attack not just the 1-2% of global GHG emissions in the production, but the additional 5% of GHG emissions in the application by mitigating nitrous oxide formation. We are pushing hard to scale up and implement this solution.”

Nitricity’s technology has been proven in commercial-scale farming operations through multiple functional pilots, including sub-surface fertigation of tomatoes in a collaboration with California State University Fresno’s Center for Irrigation Technology and the Water, Energy and Technology Center. Through solar-fertilizer technology, Nitricity has demonstrated the power of its system to produce and apply nitrogen fertilizer closer to the end-user – unlike any other fertilizer system today.

“Today’s fertilizer industry is facing the perfect storm of high GHG emissions, high fossil fuel consumption, rising costs and geopolitical disruptions,” said Rajesh Swaminathan, partner at Khosla Ventures. “Nitricity’s decentralized approach to manufacturing fertilizers using just air, water and renewables-based electricity was born out of a vision to completely transform a 100-year-old industry, and we are excited to be partnering with them.”

“Nitricity has made rapid progress since our initial investment in their Seed round,” said Allison Hinckley, senior associate at Fine Structure Ventures, a venture capital fund affiliated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments. “In response, we are increasing our support of the company to aid in bringing their differentiated, decarbonized fertilizer products to market in the near term.”

Nitricity aims for its renewable technology to be available in the market and benefitting the entire value chain within a two-year period.

2022-10-19T09:17:30-07:00October 19th, 2022|

Remembering The Good Years of Plenty of Surface Water for Growers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, AgInformation Network

Remembering the good years in agriculture and water, before the delta smelt was on the endangered species list. Mario Santoyo served as Assistant Manager for 30 years on their Friant Water user’s authority and has been fighting for water for decades.

“I remember the good years. I was around during those days, but I’ve now lived through what is now the hard years,” said Santoyo.

“The unfortunate fact is that there will no longer be good years, it will only be worse years because, for those folks that think it’s bad right now, they’re wrong. It’s going to get worse,” noted Santoyo.

And with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, things are going to get worse.

SGMA is structured in such a way that there was a decision to give water districts local control, and Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAS) were formed.

Santoyo said the California Water Board allowed the local water agencies to do their thing. “But they said that if the agencies don’t do it right, the state of California will take over.

“And the way it’s structured is that there’s a high probability that most GSAs are going to fail, which is going let the state through the door and once the state gets their hands-on regulating water, it’s goodbye in terms of having any kind of control on the usage of water,” said Santoyo.  “So, things will only get worse, as we move through time,” he said.

Santoyo said the only thing we can do is invest in water storage.

2022-10-12T15:19:05-07:00October 12th, 2022|
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