Understanding the Climate Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $11,905.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Jeanne Merrill
CA Climate & Agriculture Network (CalCAN)
Renata Brillinger
California Climate & Agriculture Network


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: grazing management, manure management, pasture renovation, range improvement, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels, energy conservation/efficiency, energy use, solar energy, wind power
  • Farm Business Management: risk management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, hedgerows, soil stabilization, wildlife, carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development

    Proposal abstract:

    Background/Justification: California agriculture is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate. In a state where water is already scarce, climate change scenarios predict that water supplies will become increasingly constrained, limiting a fundamental resource for the state’s agricultural industry. Warming temperatures also threaten to shift the kinds of crops that can be grown in the state. The vision of agriculture that has long been articulated and modeled by sustainable agriculture provides powerful solutions to the climate crisis. Despite the increased understanding of the linkages between climate change and agriculture, these issues are new to many agricultural professionals and the farmers and ranchers they work with. Fortunately, there is a growing body of research looking at the agricultural practices that may offer climate benefits. Project description: We seek $11,905 to support our project to train NRCS, Cooperative Extension and other agricultural professionals on proven sustainable agriculture practices associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation. Through field days we will educate our audience on climate change science as it relates to California agriculture, sustainable farming practices that mitigate or adapt to climate change, and we will review the latest in climate change policy as it relates to agriculture. We will conduct three field days. The project partners are Community Alliance with Family Farmers, California Certified Organic Farmers and the Ecological Farming Association. The California Climate & Agriculture Network (CAlCAN) will coordinate the project.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objectives: We seek to increase awareness and knowledge among NRCS, Cooperative Extension and RCD staff about the linkages between climate change and agriculture and the potential of sustainable agricultural practices to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. We also seek to improve the skills of our target audience, described above, to provide educational programs for farmers and ranchers on these issues. In the long term, we seek more California producers adopting practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing other environmental, social and economic benefits, as described in the SARE goals.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.