USDA Helps Farmers Deal With Climate ChangeThu, 13 Jun 2013 10:44:23 CDT
Helping farmers and ranchers deal with climate change was the subject of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's speech at the National Press Club. Vilsack told journalists that USDA must work with farmers, ranchers, and foresters to help them adapt to climate change..
"First USDA will now establish seven new regional climate hubs. These hubs will enable us to carry out regionally appropriate climate change risk and vulnerability assessments, get the data out to the field more quickly. Practically, these hubs will deal out advice to our farmers and forest owners on ways in which they can reduce on their lands the risk of a changing climate."
Another effort will be for USDA agencies to give cover crop guidance based on local conditions to maximize the environmental benefits of farm land.
" The result is new guidance, a new model that uses local climate data, tillage management, and soil data to account for daily crop growth and the use of soil moisture. With this information experts determined the latest possible time to terminate a cover crop, which will allow it to maximize carbon sequestration while at the same time minimizing the risk to the cash crop yield."
And, finally, Vilsack announced the release of the free online carbon management and evaluation tool known as COMET-FARM. It will help producers calculate how much carbon their conservation actions can remove from the atmosphere.
" For example, a producer planning to implement conservation tillage could estimate how that particular conservation practice would increase soil carbon and decrease emissions from his or her operation. Used in this way comet farm will help producers reach decisions that will reduce their energy costs, while building carbon stocks in their soil. It will also serve as a gateway for future efforts to help producers participate in voluntary carbon markets."
Earlier this year, USDA released assessments on projected climate change effects on agriculture and forests.
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