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AFT's Environmental Solutions
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Demonstration Projects:
California The Chesapeake Bay Ohio River Basin The Pacific Northwest Upper Mississippi River Basin

Improving California's Environment Through Agriculture

cows in green fieldCalifornia’s progressive environmental initiatives combined with its agricultural and political importance make it a prime candidate for showing that ecosystem services approaches can work on a wide variety of irrigated crops, including specialty crops like fruits, vegetables and nuts. Up to this point, most of the work with tillage and nutrient management BMPs (Best Management Practices) to sequester carbon, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and address water quality concerns have been done in the Midwest and Chesapeake Bay.  

Less than four percent of the crop acreage in California uses some form of conservation tillage or cover crops to protect soils, conserve moisture, improve water quality and sequester carbon.

Short-term, AFT will focus on a  prominent and pressing environmental challenge—the effects of dairying on water quality, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. Although Sustainable Conservation, the Western United Dairymen and the conservation tillage work group at U.C. Davis have shown that both conservation tillage and synchronized rate nutrient application can work for dairies who grow their own forage, fear of yield losses and unfamiliarity with concepts are greatly hampering adoption. We will be working with Sustainable Conservation to apply the BMP Challenge to remedy this problem.  At the same time, we’ll be evaluating opportunities to adapt the BMP Challenge to fit specialty crop needs.

Our California office is also working to:

  • Work to shape the implementation rules for AB 32, and address and curb urban sprawl which continues to pave over farmland in California and and permanently eliminate any environmental benefits well-managed farmland could have provided.
  • Implement our BMP Challenge for Reduced Tillage demonstration project with California farmers to improve water quality and help mitigate climate change.
  • Collaborate with other partners to develop a state agriculture vision for agriculture with measurable goals for resource conservation and environmental improvement by 2030; and
  • Bring AFT's expertise in setting performance measures and standards for specialty crops to efforts to establish measurable, verifiable, performance-based standards that will result in improved water quality and greenhouse gas mitigation and reduction.

American Farmland Trust