Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

Like the SUNY-ESF research to cool Downtown Syracuse with water from Lake Ontario, the project discussed in the local newspaper, excerpted below, is another promising step on the route to a sustainable energy future, led by my own college.

Syracuse, NY — Farmers in Oswego County beginning next week will be able to sign up to grow willows as part of a renewable energy fuel project.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $4.3 million to be paid to Central and Northern New York farmers to grow willow to burn to make electricity. The project is a collaboration of the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the ReEnergy Co.

SUNY-ESF, which has been studying using willows as a renewable energy source since 1986, will offer an outreach program to educate local government officials, agricultural leaders, farmers and landowners about the opportunity to grow willow. ReEnergy operates plants that use biomass and waste residues to produce thermal and electric energy.

And, in another part of the article, Tim Volk describes the production and harvesting conditions for willow.

Volk said the willow will be grown on 3,500 acres of marginal farmland that is considered poor for other crops. He said willow grows well in wet soils and is pretty tolerant of adverse weather condition.

The first harvest of willow takes place four years after it is planted. It then is harvested again every three years, Volk said, adding it is an easy crop to grow and requires very little management.

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And on to the details of climate adaptation (facilitating change in practices and land use). Presently, there are few studies like the one that is now getting attention about the effect of climate change on winegrape production. Diffenbaugh et al. predict that warming will limit land suitable for premium winegrape production by as much as 50% in some California counties. You can see how this finding might garner attention!  A key motivation for the research was to “quantify the potential effectiveness of different adaptation strategies.” In this example, the alternative strategies include planting in new locations, planting different varieties or clones, and altering vineyard design. The researchers identified characteristics of locations that might be better in the future. What are other climate change impacts that need this kind of analysis?

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