Webinar Announcement June 1st: Building Rangeland Resilience Case Studies

Matt Reeves USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station and Georgine Yorgey Washington State University will present Case Studies to Build Rangeland Resilience

Cow-calf operators, the primary users of rangeland resources throughout the Pacific Northwest, will need to adapt to a range of future stressors, including those that are climate-related. A critical aspect of preparing for the future is understanding past vegetation performance and management responses. Learning from successful techniques for dealing with extended drought or reduced forage conditions can add insight to the future. Thus, as part of this project, we use case studies to quantify decadal trends and inter-annual variability for rangelands to aid managers and producers in planning for the future. We also profile forward-thinking grazers to provide stakeholder-centered and science-driven insights into their management practices to enhance resilience.

Friday, June 1, 2018  1 pm Eastern/12 pm Central/ 11 am Mountain/ 10 am Pacific
The presentation will follow an update on USDA Forest Service and Climate Hub activities

To join the webinar:
Step 1: For audio, dial: 1-888-844-9904 and use access code: 3847359
Step 2: Web Login: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/sfmr-500/

 

 

What the heck is a snow drought?

by Sonia A. Hall

Remember 2015? That was a snow drought. Since then, researchers at CIRC (Climate Impacts Research Consortium) have been delving into snow droughts. They are part of an effort that recently released “a number of snow drought monitoring tools designed for decision makers and resource managers to monitor, plan for, and cope with snow drought and its impacts.”  Get more details through Christina Stone (NIDIS) and Nathan Gilles’s article in the Climate CIRCulator, or check it out for yourself on the Snow Drought website.

Forest to Farm Biochar – What will it take?

By Laurie Houston

Biochar made from woody biomass. Photo: Oregon Department of Forestry under CC BY 2.0.

My colleagues kicked off a discussion on biochar with their recent articles. Biochar can potentially be a win for soil health, for carbon sequestration in soils, and for fire risk reduction in forests. Kristin Trippe talked about the benefits of biochar as soil amendments in agricultural soils, and a tool to help producers choose biochar products. Chris Schnepf and Darrell McAvoy discussed the benefits and challenges of using forestry slash to produce biochar, and how mobile kilns can facilitate that. So, if biochar has all these benefits why aren’t all farmers spreading biochar on their fields? And why isn’t all the biomass from thinning being processed into biochar? Continue reading

CIRC Releases Final Report for Phase One of Research     

by Sonia A. Hall

Interested in better understanding climate change impacts in the Pacific Northwest? Our colleagues at CIRC (Climate Impacts Research Consortium) have recently released a report on their first seven years of research. Check out Nathan Gilles’s article on this report, that walks you through and highlights the key findings. Read Nathan’s article in the Climate CIRCulator.

Biochar and Forestry

By Chris Schnepf, University of Idaho, and

Darren McAvoy, Utah State University

Biochar is being used in a variety of agricultural and home and garden applications. Photo: C. Schnepf.

Biochar has many possible agricultural benefits. Given the large role that fire plays in western forests, biochar has likely also already played a significant role in Northwest forests, as evidenced by the charcoal commonly found on top of or buried in our forest soils. Biochar shows promise in providing additional benefits in restoring heavily disturbed forest sites, such as forest roads, skid trails, and landings. For more information, see a chapter in a recent biochar book detailing the current state of North American forest biochar research.

Most of the enthusiasm around biochar in the forestry community, however, is related to using forest management residues to create biochar and useable fuels, such as bio-oil and syngas. Continue reading

Biochar: what can it do for your soil?

By Kristin Trippe, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit

Farmers across the globe are grappling with the challenges of a changing climate. In the Pacific Northwest, loss of snow pack has diminished the availability of water resources, causing increased drought stress (see this article, for example). Our program is focused on biochar, a rather non-descript product that can help farmers both sequester carbon and prolong the availability of soil moisture in their agricultural soils to address drought stress.

Biological Science Technicians Sarah Light (left) and Stephanie Chiu (right) collect soil cores from soil amended with biochar to determine if biochar can help prevent drought. Photo: Claire Phillips, USDA ARS FSCRU.

Continue reading

My Mother’s Forestland

By Renée E. D’Aoust

The author’s parents, Brian and Susan D’Aoust. Photo: Renée E. D’Aoust.

My mom called our forestland in northern Idaho a “spot of paradise.” Mom was the first to point out a grand fir that might fall, to see a moose on the pasture, and to notice Western larch needles changing color. She passed away eight years ago, and we try to honor her by caring for our forestland. Since my brother and I live far away, all of the work falls on Dad.

In my family, we’ve talked about climate change for over thirty years. The issues that arise from climate change—extreme weather events, migration due to drought, conflict caused by land issues, and more—will force all of us to recognize climate change as the most defining issue of our epoch. It will be the issue that unites us—or destroys us. If the latter, one spot of paradise that brings one family joy won’t matter. Or will it?

Continue reading

Crop Diversity is a Nice Thing if You Can Get It and You Can Get It if You Try

By Gabrielle Roesch-McNally

Diversity is a good thing, right?

Diversity is incredibly important for a productive and resilient agrifood system. Diversity in the form of extended crop rotations can lead to greater “productivity, profitability and environmental health,” and can reduce weed, insect, and disease pressure, helping farmers cut the costs of their inputs. Diversifying the crop rotation provides financial as well as broader environmental benefits that can be experienced at the field (e.g., reduced erosion) and landscape scale (e.g., reduced water quality impairment). Greater crop diversity will also help mitigate risks associated with the impacts of global climate change, including more extreme and variable weather events, and sustained temperature and precipitation changes that will impact agricultural production. Sadly, much of the agricultural production in the U.S, even parts of the Northwest, is lacking in diversity.

Diversity is a key ingredient in building a more resilient agroecosystem, so why are so few farmers implementing diverse crop rotations?

Continue reading