Reconciliation and Climate-Smart Agriculture
Angry Bear’s Mike Smith; I am a little baffled by our governments assessment of agriculture. Just today they released a few details about paying farmers to plant cover crop, as per this article here. House Budget Plan Offers Big Injection of Funds in USDA Conservation Programs
House Budget Plan Offers Big Injection of Funds in USDA Conservation Programs (dtnpf.com), Progressive Farmer
OMAHA (DTN) — Farmers would get up to $25 an acre from the Farm Service Agency to grow cover crops under $28 billion that would go to USDA conservation programs in the House budget reconciliation package.
Agricultural groups started sending around top-line numbers for the $28 billion that will go into conservation programs as part of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan. Groups that already support large investments in USDA conservation programs are praising the proposal.
“It is potentially transformative, and the emphasis on investments in conservation programs centered on mitigating climate change is a game-changer,” said Eric Deeble, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was among those applauding the amount of money for conservation. President Joe Biden’s initial plan had called for $1 billion in agricultural conservation spending. Some conservation groups sought as much as $50 billion in new spending. Stabenow said:
“We are leading the way on helping farmers tackle the climate crisis with a historic investment of $28 billion in the Build Back Better budget for climate-smart agriculture — the largest investment in conservation since the Dust Bowl. Our conservation programs are proven and popular with farmers, ranchers and foresters. This will make a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is the equivalent of taking over 142 million cars off the road.”
Under the details, the bill would spend $5 billion for a cover crop program that would operate through the Farm Service Agency. Another $9 billion will boost spending for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and $4 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Another $7.5 billion will go to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP); $1.5 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP); $600 million for USDA to quantify greenhouse-gas reductions; and $50 million for USDA’s climate hubs.
A caveat for the injection of spending in the various programs — if the funds and budget are approved — is that the funds would have to be used for conservation practices that mitigate carbon emissions.
As pointed out by Mike Smith with this program, one problem is a 50 pound sack of coastal ryegrass seed that I have recently seeded in a pasture costs $37 per 50 pounds. Now that grass seed is in germination for forage in the late fall, early winter. It is cheaper than buying hay off the rancher next door. A cover crop implies I plant it and I guess let it die in the first freeze? Who knows what constitutes actually croppage with the crafters of this bill. We will probably learn more after it is pared down and passed.
Anyhoo, back to the math.
Rye seed per pound covers approximately 325 square feet, but you can get away with closer to 400 if you stretch it, so one 50 pound sack will cover just shy of 20,000 square feet. An acre is 43,560 square feet. So now I need two bags of seed per acre at a cost of $74 per acre.
And they want to pay me $25?
Run, thanks for expanding upon my rant.
This is a good offset for farms already planting cover to fix their nitrogen problem. Cover crop is cheaper than chemical but it takes longer. Covering in the south takes acres out of production which is a big ask.
This benefits a very slim group of outfits. This will never offer incentive for new carbon capture, and will only offset some of the cost already being spent by those farms that need to.
The NRCS and Farm Services Bureau are awesome to work with, but you have to hit certain conditions for the government to do anything. Recently the NRCS came out to help us figure out fall irrigation in the second driest September on record for Texas. What we need is funding to fix the irrigation well, or at the very least a $100 a month stipend for me to go buy compost at the city dump that they are selling for $27 a ton, a giveaway.
More to come soon. Still working through the 200+ pages of the Texas 2022 water report.
Got the same issue. Two great posts on healthcare to finish up. It used to be one and I had to split them due to length. Another post of value added which is a way healthcare wants to set pricing, and finally a post of Single Payer which is mostly finished and needs to be refined.
I understand the work needed to bring a good post to be shown You are doing fine.
Single payer, color me intrigued. I’m about to move us onto the new Bidencare platform since being a broke farmer qualifies for subsidies now. Thanks again.
What’s a bale of hay cost these day’s, and how many do you need to winter?
Does twenty-five bucks even cover the taxes?
My little herd of forest clearing apparatus is about a thousand pounds and can comfortably graze an acre every quarter or so. A round bale is $70 and can last a couple of weeks.
The $25 there might be income tax applications but other than that I buy my seed sales and use tax free in Texas. I am sure other states that are tax heavy such as New York or Colorado might want the income.
As far as wintering, last year we spent roughly $150 a month on 12% sweet feed and square bales to begin the winter and then got close to $250 a month in January during the first snow storm, and probably equal to that in February during Freezemageddon. But we also had additional input costs to offset the caloric burn by way of propane heaters in the barn and tarps to break the winds. This is all done for a thousand pounds of herd, or one acre forage comparable. Rancher Roger has 300 acres and another guy 500. We rarely get snow and almost never get down below freezing for 5 full days. Unprepared is not even close to the proper term for where any of us were.
This winter I’ve got 3 acres of lush Bahia that has been baking in the sun all summer. Still edible unless we get zero rain in the next two weeks. I’ve prepped a one acre ryegrass paddock and seeded it but…no rain. I’ve also got another one acre paddock that I need to prep for spring and seed with Hygear, per Rancher Roger. We are market growers that use the animals as a quick composting operating that is also hands down the best weeding option we have. So cover cropping doesn’t help because I have to graze it, and those acres I spend cover cropping and running animals on…I spend a lot more time dealing with forage for the animals and less tending to my irrigation problems with the winter squash.
This legislation helps offset the costs for this guy I call Crazy Ace, who grows corn in the spring and flies his crop duster in between highline and tree line, and just got done baling cotton. His next step is to cover it to fix his nitrogen with a sorghum or something similar. He has about a thousand acres, so it will.offswt his costs. The rest of us need not apply.
Apparently, this audience is not aware of the Regerative Agriculture movement, Gabe Brown, and their pioneering work using cover crops to reduce farm costs, while increasing farm income.
They work with farmers nationwide.
Texas should be a prime beneficiary of this system.
I’m glad to see USDA putting $$ behind this
In case you are curious where you comment went, it was in moderation. We just approved it.
If I read Michael’s thoughts on this correctly, to plant a cover crop; it costs more for the seed than what is given to the farmer planting the cover crop. Whatever gains are realized in the long run are countered by losing money in the short run.
Correct. Cutting fire wood this morning and just had coffee with the neighbor and he said he can get cheaper seed by the pound if we buy by the ton, or pallet, so it is do-able to lessen the cost of input for cover cropping. He seeds for his cattle so that’s not cover that is graze.
George, you are correct, there are plenty of people focused on this and I hope they have some ears in Washington. Really intelligent capable people, some of whom we work with. As for me and my farm, as well as the 50 acre organic farm around the corner, this doesn’t help us, we buy compost more than cover crop seed. The other agri heavy producers out here are beef cattle, chicken to Sanderson Farms, and goat and lamb selling to Halal vendors in Houston, Austin and Dallas. My main point was that the guys who can cover crop already do so be it is the smart, cost effective way to put nitrogen back into the soils, as well as carbon to till in when they are ready to prep a field for corn in the spring.
September 24, 2021
Chinese scientists for the first time synthesize starch from carbon dioxide
BEIJING — Chinese scientists have developed an artificial method of synthesizing starch from carbon dioxide, the first of its kind globally.
The study, * conducted by the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), was published in the journal Science on Friday.
As a major component of food, starch is generally produced by crops through photosynthesis. Starch synthesis in nature needs about 60 metabolic reactions and complex physiological regulation.
Many studies have been carried out globally on starch synthesis, but little progress had been made before.
The research team has designed an artificial starch synthesis pathway consisting of only 11 core reactions, achieving complete synthesis from carbon dioxide to starch molecules in the laboratory for the first time, said Ma Yanhe, Director General of the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology.
The structure of the synthetic starch was proved to be the same as that of natural starch, said Ma, who is also the corresponding author of the study.
Preliminary tests show that the new method is about 8.5 times more efficient than producing starch by conventional agriculture based on the starch synthesis rate, Ma said.
According to current results, the annual starch production of a bioreactor with the size of one cubic meter is theoretically as much as that of about 0.3 hectares of cornfields in China without considering the energy input.
In the study, an anabolic pathway that does not exist in nature was designed and assembled, and its work efficiency is significantly higher than that of natural biological processes, Ma said.
The study is promising to help realize starch workshop production and provides a new technical route for synthesizing complex molecules from carbon dioxide, he added.
“The work could provide a pathway to our future industrial biomanufacturing of this important global substance,” said Science Press Package Executive Director Meagan Phelan.
The study is still in the laboratory stage, and there is a long way to go before it is put into use, according to Zhou Qi, vice president and academician of the CAS.
The research team will make efforts to solve scientific problems such as the design and regulation of starch synthesis systems, as well as to promote the possible industrial applications of the study.
September 24, 2021
Cell-free chemoenzymatic starch synthesis from carbon dioxide
By Cai Tao, et al
Starches, a storage form of carbohydrates, are a major source of calories in the human diet and a primary feedstock for bioindustry. We report a chemical-biochemical hybrid pathway for starch synthesis from carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen in a cell-free system. The artificial starch anabolic pathway (ASAP), consisting of 11 core reactions, was drafted by computational pathway design, established through modular assembly and substitution, and optimized by protein engineering of three bottleneck-associated enzymes. In a chemoenzymatic system with spatial and temporal segregation, ASAP, driven by hydrogen, converts CO2 to starch at a rate of 22 nanomoles of CO2 per minute per milligram of total catalyst, an ~8.5-fold higher rate than starch synthesis in maize. This approach opens the way toward future chemo-biohybrid starch synthesis from CO2.
My understanding of this work, after carefully reading the Science paper, is that there has been a most important advance. After all, the sun synthesizes starch but the synthesis, however beautiful the natural growth, is terribly inefficient. Imagine multiplying the efficiency of production of so important a product as starch in a laboratory. The work is surely exciting, and technological development of the process would seem reasonable.