Making the Sustainability Measuring Stick, Calculating Your Nitrogen Footprint, Defending Farms on the Urban Edge and More

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News March 3, 2009

Happy New Year! In this issue of E-news, join 10 Pennsylvania farmers in protecting clean water by calculating your nitrogen footpint, learn about the issues facing farms on the urban edge, find out what makes Pennsylvania one of the top states in the country for farmland protection, and learn how you can help define sustainability.

10 Farmers Make 24,000 Lbs of Nitrogen Fertilizer Disappear!

Corn Farmer
Last year, ten Pennsylvania farmers took on our Best Management Program Challenge to grow their crops on their fields using less nitrogen fertilizer than the recommended levels. The results of their year long experiment are good news for the environment and the wallet! In 2008, these farmers reduced a total of 24,658 pounds of nitrogen that otherwise would have been applied to their fields. Not only did these farmers remove thousands of pounds of nitrogen that could have ended up clouding the Chesapeake, they did it at a fraction of the cost of other nitrogen removal strategies—at only $2.74 per pound versus the up to $8-9 per pound it is estimated it could cost tax payers to remove the nutrient through other means. It isn’t just farmers that can make a difference; you can do your part too! Whether you live in the Mid-Atlantic or in the plains of North Dakota, water always makes its way downhill. Find out what you can do: check-out the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s nitrogen calculator and take a challenge of your own!

Farming on the Urban-Edge: Study of 15 Counties Shows What Helps and What Hinders

Cows in Front of City

Case studies of counties across the country—included in the report Sustaining Agriculture in Urbanizing Counties—reveal the evolving mix of conditions that are needed to keep farms near metropolitan areas healthy and viable for the future. Farmers on the urban-edge face special challenges, from development pressure to finding labor to transferring their farms to the next generation. The newly released study comprehensively analyzes the factors affecting urban-edge farm viability and lays the groundwork for actions that can help communities keep growing local. 

“It’s essential for both smart growth and farmland protection advocates to recognize that preventing the conversion of agricultural land is not enough. The agricultural benefits of restrictive zoning, purchase of development rights, or urban growth boundaries can only be realized when farms are viable and farmland is in active agriculture use,” said American Farmland Trust's Anita Zurbrugg, one of the study’s principle authors.

Recipe for the Future: What Are the Ingredients for Sustainable Production?

California Lettuce Farmers
Agriculture by its very nature represents the practice of land stewardship, but what does it mean to grow sustainably? The answer to this question could provide a vision for cleaner air, water and healthier communities. Join American Farmland Trust and the many other organizations and businesses that are working to safeguard our resources by developing measurement tools for sustainability. In one such effort, the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops is developing a guide to measure sustainable crop production in California. Add your voice and provide feedback by February 1, 2009 to get involved in shaping a sustainable future

20 Years of Farmland Protection and Many More to Come

Pennsylvania Farm in Mist
Pennsylvania, a leader in America’s farmland protection efforts, celebrated the 20th anniversary of their state Farmland Preservation Program in 2008, and the state is continuing its commitment. Pennsylvania, which has now invested over $1 billion in farmland preservation, has 57 participating county programs. In addition to expanding protected lands, Pennsylvania’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee reviewed the effectiveness of existing programs and efforts in a comprehensive report that may help farmland measures in other parts of the nation. The Review of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program addresses 19 issues—everything from project selection criteria to the potential use of state funds for enforcement actions.

Around the Country

Recent Farmland Protection Forum held in Massachusetts explored potential new land protection and conservation finance tools, including farmer pensions, eco-system service payments, and agricultural districts..

Oregon state puts down a million for manure in a new digester project.

University of Illinois is helping launch environmentally and economically sustainable small farms through a series of workshops on small-scale farming.

The state of Michigan will help schools purchase locally grown foods for meals and snacks, reflecting a growing interest in Farm to School programs across the state.

Ecosystem Services Conference to be held in Virginia in March will bring together environmental leaders, academics, and the Department of Agriculture to discuss the potential for carbon and water trading in the Chesapeake region.

Food, Fiber, and Energy isn't all farmland provides! Our Washington Conservation Markets listening session looked at the potential for ecosystem services in the Pacific Northwest. PowerPoint presentations and final summary of proceedings available on Washington Conservation Markets page.

Idaho makes treasure out of trash by turning cow pies into green energy

Tennessee Agritourism Conference to be held January 26-27, 2009, will help farmers tap into new revenue streams. 

What's on the Menu? Weekly lunch program in Pennsylvania discusses best practices for cleaner water and air with  livestock and poultry farmers.

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