North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance Looks for Solutions

Solutions From The Land on System Implementation

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Ernie Shea, president of Solutions From the Land. He explained the importance of system implementation and the North American Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance.

“Our primary areas of focus at the moment are clean energy, climate change, and soil and water conservation in the 21st century,” he said.

They are integrating these areas of focus and the systems involved. There is still a need to find a solution for profitability.

“The biggest and important areas of focus is finding a way to respond to the changing climatic conditions and deliver solutions that create wealth and job opportunities for agriculture,” Shea said.

North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance is looking for ways to deliver solutions.

“We have created the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, and it is the continental platform for farm and conservation groups that are looking at ways these landscapes can deliver solutions,” Shea explained.

There are conversations taking place at the state level about becoming more sustainable, resilient, and participating in the low carbon economy.

“Carbon sequestration is one of the more exciting new areas of opportunity that are coming for agriculture,” Shea said.

Farming has been framed as a problem in the past.

“Oftentimes, we’re framed as the problem child,” Shea said.

When managing a farming operation, good solid conservation practices are important.

“No-till cover crops are an example that you are increasing the organic content. You are sequestering carbon at a scale that goes beyond what people originally gave us credit for it,” Shea explained.

Well-managed agricultural systems help on many levels. In the upper Midwest, there are continuous corn operations, even no-till corn operations.

“They were measuring the carbon content in the first meter, and they weren’t realizing that the root systems, we’re pulling carbon down well below one meter down to two meters in deeper,” Shea said.

These monoculture landscapes are labeled as something bad. This landscape, in particular, was a critically needed solution. Well-managed agricultural systems can deliver food, feed, fiber, energy, and environmental services.

“If we can figure out a way to create a monitoring and measuring system, then 21st-century agriculture will be seen as solutions, not defined as problems,” Shea said.

Solutions From The Land: Improving Soils for Increased Production

High Demands for Sustainability Call for Solutions from the Land

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

With an increasing population and fewer resources, the agriculture industry is under increasing pressure to remain sustainable. Solutions from the Land is meeting this challenge head-on by examining more progressive ways to produce.

Solutions From The Land is a farmer-led platform that advocates for multiple solutions towards well-managed agricultural landscapes that can still meet the demands of an increasing population.

Ernie Shea, president of Solutions From The Land, is optimistic about California agriculture’s future.

“We’ve had significant investments in technology and infrastructure that have allowed the systems to deploy at a scale, but more than anything, we’ve had progressive leaders that have helped to champion this cause,” he said.

One of the pathways Solutions From The Land is working towards is soil health programming. Through this, farmers are improving the organic content in their soil and soaking up leached water.

“They’re sequestering greenhouse gases and delivering global solutions,” Shea explained.

The organization has partnered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and encouraged government leaders to endorse soil health programming in hopes that they will help farmers adapt to changing climatic conditions.

“We hope someday we’ll add economic value to the carbon that we’re sinking and reward the producers for it,” Shea said

Sustainability is Focus of Solutions from the Land

Solutions From the Land Focuses on Sustainability

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Many California farmers are working toward a more sustainable future, according to Ernie Shea, president of Solutions From the Land.

“We are a North American climate-smart agriculture alliance that has come together with others,” Shea said.

Solutions from the Land, which has partnered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is the continental platform for farm and conservation groups that are looking at ways these landscapes can deliver solutions.

Solutions from the Land has been getting a lot of support from California.

“We’ve had the right enabling policy, and you’ve got a lot of that in California,” Shea said.

There have also been significant investments in technology and infrastructure that have allowed systems to deploy at scale. Solutions from the Land is producing wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, biofuels, or types of sustainable, domestically-produced energy sources.

“When we started, we were at about five percent renewables. Today, we’re in the twelve percent range. Twenty-five percent by 2025 is the new target that we established,” Shea explained.

Ernie Shea

“We have to be able to produce food and fiber with less water and with erratic conditions. There is a lot of conversation about how to adapt to these realities when you are right in the epicenter of drought, fire, and floods,” he said.

“Everything has become less predictable. Solutions From the Land is sponsoring state-level conversations around how to become more sustainable, resilient, and how to participate in the low carbon economy, biofuels, and renewable energy,” Shea added.

Carbon sequestration is one of the more exciting new areas of opportunity that are coming for agriculture. The focus is on farmers and what they care about.

“They care about resiliency, profitability, sustainability. An example of one of the pathways that we work on: initiatives like soil health programming,” Shea said.

This helps farmers realize that by improving the health of their soil and the organic content, the crops are doing a better job of soaking up whatever water does fall.

“They’re reducing the need to provide some inputs. They’re sequestering greenhouse gases. They’re delivering global solutions,” Shea explained.

Sakata Seed America Awarded Title of ‘Water Saving Hero’

Sakata Seed America Awarded Title of ‘Water Saving Hero,’ Sets Example during Severe California Drought

Sakata Seed America is doing their part to ‘Go Green’ and conserve water during the severe California drought. The drought has taken a huge toll on the entire state; however, it has hit both the Agricultural and Horticultural industries particularly hard. According to a study by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, “the drought is expected to be worse for California’s agricultural economy this year because of reduced water availability…Farmers will have 2.7 million acre-feet less surface water than they would in a normal water year – about 33 percent loss of water supply. Individual farmers will face losses of zero to 100 percent.” In response, Sakata has made it a priority to focus on ways to reduce their water usage and boost long-term sustainability for the future.

In 2014, two main projects were completed to conserve water at the Morgan Hill office headquarters. First, 12,500 square feet of turf was removed and replaced with drought-tolerant plants and landscape coverage. In addition, the overhead sprinklers were removed and replaced with a low-volume drip system. The estimated water savings for the 2014 updates totals to 300,000 gallons of water annually. For the remaining turf, complete irrigation updates were implemented, and over 275 sprinkler nozzles were upgraded to a weather track system which reduces water when it’s not needed, resulting in an additional 50,000 gallons of water conserved annually.

This year, Sakata has already begun their next phase of water reduction. Thus far, 16,088 additional square footage of turf has been removed from the front of the company’s headquarters and replaced with a new, drought-resistance landscape and low-volume drip systems. And it doesn’t stop there, Sakata’s internal committee, ‘GreenUp,’ which is solely dedicated to creating a greener work environment has a lot more in store for the future – some immediate plans for facility upgrades include water-saving restroom updates such as touchless faucets. In addition, the committee is distributing free shower buckets to all interested employees.

Sakata’s water conservation efforts have not gone unnoticed. In September 2014, Sakata was deemed the title of a ‘Water Saving Hero’ and presented a plaque by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, who have been encouraging water conservation all over Santa Clara County with their ‘Brown is the New Green’ campaign, which distributes free ‘Brown is the New Green’ lawn signs, shower buckets, moisture meters, shower timers, shower heads and hose nozzles for Santa Clara county residents.

“It’s part of our responsibility to the community and the industry to conserve water and lower our carbon footprint. We are proud of our efforts thus far, but are determined to take it further and become a role model for other companies,”states Tye Anderson, Senior Logistics & Operations Manager for Sakata.

Sakata’s GreenUp committee’s future plans stretch far beyond lessening water usage and focus on sustainability as a whole. Long-term goals include such workplace additions as bike racks and charging stations for electric cars.

For more information on how you can help conserve water during the California drought, please visit: www.saveourwater.com. For more on Sakata’s contribution, read the full article.

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Headquartered in Morgan Hill, CA, Sakata Seed America is a major research, seed production and marketing-distribution subsidiary of Sakata Seed Corporation, established in 1913.   Sakata Seed America serves as the headquarters for the North American operations.  

Featured Photo: Sakata’s Tye Anderson accepts Water Saving Hero Award