It goes without saying that agriculture in the Northeast is being affected by climate change, and Massachusetts farmers are no exception. From more frequent and extreme storms to changing weather patterns and warmer winters, these events and their compounding effects combine to make it increasingly difficult to make a living as a farmer.
Seemingly, the farms most affected by changes in climate are those that are starting out with poor soil quality or those that are growing in a location that is susceptible to storm damage. Take Sawyer Farm, for example–a diverse horse-powered farm where Lincoln Fishman and a small team have found a niche growing specialized storage vegetables, like carrots and beets, while maintaining pasture and cutting hay for their horses.
Located in the hills in Hampshire County, Sawyer Farm’s land has been subject to some dramatic changes due to recent weather. In two of the past four seasons, late-season rains (the tail end of hurricanes) have turned the soil to mud starting in early September, leading to poor size-up and rot, which led to an estimated loss of 90% of root crops in 2021, and a 70% loss in 2019, valued at about $15,000 in potential sales. Because of the hilly location, heavy rain events caused visible topsoil and nutrient loss due to runoff and erosion, especially in areas of exposed soil. Knowing that over time this can lead to dramatically decreased soil fertility, Lincoln has almost entirely transitioned to no-till techniques to try to maintain the health of the soil. In a no-till system, soil is never bare and has a greater capacity to withstand storms and absorb rainwater.
[Read more…] about The Farmer’s Voice in the Climate Crisis: How Climate Challenges Expose the Need for Regenerative Agriculture