Home Forums Climate Resilience via Agroecology Weekly Lesson Forum Week 4: Agroecosystem Indicators of Resilience

  • Week 4: Agroecosystem Indicators of Resilience

     Bob updated 3 years, 6 months ago 6 Members · 8 Posts
  • N4t4l14

    June 20, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Please post your thoughts, resources, comments or questions on Week 4’s materials: Agroecosystem Indicators of Resilience. You may also post the findings from your assignment in this topic

    Some Discussion Questions

    • If someone asked you, will your farm withstand an extended drought, what would you answer and why?
    • Do you use indicators (signs that you observe in the farm) to estimate the vulnerability of your farm? Which ones and why?
    • When a climatic event happens, what are the first 3 things that you observe in your fields?
    • What actions do you take when a such an event strikes?
  • Jeanne Yu

    June 25, 2018 at 9:38 am

    I can’t seem to find the assignment for this week. Would it be possible to post it here? Thanks!

  • Gabriel

    June 26, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I feel I am over thinking the whole indicator aspect. My event is extreme heat days, something i think makes my farm vulnerable to these events are the severe slopes and exposed aspects that we have. But then for the 4 levels of value I have no idea what to put? It seems like there is just one value which is, is it on a steep slope that’s exposed to west and south sun? Yes. So then, I know before I start that most of my farm is vulnerable based on slope. Then how does that indicator help me at all? What do I do with that information?

  • Laura

    June 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    My urban site would withstand an extended drought as long as municipal water supplies hold out. My response relies on a somewhat reasonable assumption, but potentially not the most responsible practice and certainly not in the spirit of this course. It is the only site where I have ‘ownership’ and ability/confidence to implement long-term practices, but it is not ideal soil or siting for agricultural purposes.
    My small semi-rural site relies on well water that might be at very likely risk of running dry in an extended drought. The soil, climate and overall siting there are better for implementing water harvesting strategies, but it is not my land, raising the resistance to implement long-term investments in landscape practices.

    I would cite erosion as an indicator of vulnerability on many of the (sloping) farms I work with in the region.

    I do not have long enough tenure on my own farm sites to have experienced a climatic event in any meaningful context, so I can’t really speak to the remaining questions now.

  • Laura

    June 26, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Gabriel: I also struggle with selecting values. My example: I have sandy soil with low organic matter, but I have covered it thickly with mulches. It will take a long period of time to increase the OM and water holding capacity, but I’m making the effort. Does that put me in the middle? I think it remains more vulnerable until years of transition have transformed the conditions.

  • Bob

    June 29, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    On last week’s webinar, Paul suggested watching Gabe Brown’s cover crop videos. I did. Amazing results from no-till and mixed cover cropping. And he cover crops before, after and during his salable crop plantings. His farm produces 25% more crop than conventional ones and at a much lower investment. Check out the videos and any that pop up in your suggestion column. Great resource.

  • Starhawk Simos

    June 30, 2018 at 7:18 am

    I’ve also been having a bit of trouble with this as I haven’t found where to fill in the template, and my major risk factor is fire, which doesn’t seem to lend itself to this type of quantification. Or rather, there are many things we can do to decrease risk, but the difference would be betweeen Extreme Risk to Slightly Less Extreme Risk. Maybe I’ll just pick a different risk factor, like drought.

    Gabriel, I also share the extreme heat day risk–I would think one mitigating factore might be shade, soil moisture, diversity of crops, etc.

  • Bob

    July 6, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser made it clear that off-farm income is necessary. She was a nurse for their first 7 years. Most farmers have outside jobs to make ends meet. Economics dictate this. 2007 figures: The good news: Corn prices went up 87%. The bad news: Fertilizer costs went up 67% and fuel costs doubled. This is one of the best arguments for people-powered agro-ecology I’ve seen. Using industrial farming techniques on small farms has people teetering on the edge of survival. Family farmers in 2007 earned $26,000 in annual income from farming. They averaged $31,000 from off-farm jobs. That $57,000 total income put them just above the national average. Meanwhile, the large industrial farms got the majority of farm support payments and made most of the profits by growing animal feed (corn, soy, etc).

    We have state agencies that give grants for innovative farming techniques on farms and pastures. Marin ranchers, for example, are paid to put compost on their grazing lands. These agencies have also funded more water-efficient irrigation. Search “California RCDs, CDFAs Healthy Soils Program” at nacdnet.org for links to possible support and to a 2017 NY Times article titled “California Today: To Fight Climate change, Heal the Ground.”

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