In Burt County this summer, rows and rows of identical corn fields painted a familiar and quintessentially Nebraska landscape — until you reached a quarter of an acre of land teeming with a diversity of crops near Lyons, about 70 miles northwest of Omaha.
12-year-old Evelyn, who did not share her last name for privacy, crouched down in a small patch of budding plants on a Saturday morning in June. With pale blue plastic gloves on her hands, she yanked weeds out of the earth and left the varied leafy crops between them rooted.
“We’re looking for the ones that are thicker,” Evelyn said in Spanish. She was among 14 other youth and adults of Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim in the field separating invasive weeds from budding vegetables for the First Acre Milpa summer program.
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Agriculture accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to chemical contamination of water resources, but it is uniquely situated to be part of the solution. Agriculture can provide effective actions to mitigate climate change, reduce its impacts and improve water quality while increasing productivity. And the key lies in the soil under our feet.
Effective actions revolve around making sure soil is healthy and alive. When soil has depleted topsoil or little humus, few worms or fungi and other microorganisms, lacking texture and structure, it is no longer an organized living ecosystem. Over years of customary farming practices, most soils have lost organic matter, surface armor, ability to absorb heavy rains and shifted and depleted their biological diversity.
Read more at the Omaha World-Herald
Farmers and academics at a hearing this week stressed the need for members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee to support regenerative agriculture farming practices in the upcoming farm bill in order to protect topsoil.
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott said he held the hearing Wednesday to discuss ways policymakers and the Department of Agriculture could help farmers incorporate regenerative agriculture practices. That investment in soil health would curb climate change and prevent a food shortage, the Georgia Democrat said.
Regenerative agriculture occurs in farming and grazing practices that focus on rebuilding organic matter in topsoil, restoring degraded soil biodiversity and improving the water cycle. All of these mitigate climate change by growing plants that capture carbon dioxide and move it into the soil.
“Conventional agriculture models are degrading American soil,” Jeff Moyer, the chief executive officer of Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, said. Rodale was a pioneer in organic farming.
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The award-winning environmental documentary: “Kiss the Ground” will be made free to educators, as well as a follow-up curriculum by the National Science Teaching Association, starting Jan. 28.
Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the Grade 6-12 version of the critically acclaimed eco-doc will include new sequences and a supplementary curriculum. Directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell will release a 45-minute educational version of the documentary that will be made free to all schools, students, teachers,and community educators via the documentary’s website.
Click to read the article at Variety!