Researcher Advocacy Spotlight: Eric Brennan

Eric Brennan is an instance of what can occur when researchers are in the suitable place on the proper time to lend their experience to coverage choices.

Eric Brennan with cereal cowl crop samples from Ag Order 4.0 Trials

Brennan is a analysis horticulturist on the USDA Agricultural Analysis Service in Salinas, California. He makes a speciality of natural farming programs and climate-smart agriculture, and the coverage determination he was capable of weigh in on was Ag Order 4.0, a regulatory program that protects groundwater sources from agricultural runoff. This regulation impacts over 540,000 acres of irrigated land within the central coast area of California and applies to growers who function irrigated lands, animal feeding operations, or nurseries. Within the press launch when the regulatory program was launched, it says “The necessities in Ag Order 4.0 shield human well being, shield and restore the helpful makes use of of floor and groundwater, and obtain water high quality aims specified within the Central Coast Basin Plan by minimizing nitrogen discharges to groundwater, minimizing nutrient, pesticide and sediment discharges to floor water. The order additionally requires the safety of riparian and wetland habitat.” 

The day earlier than the Ag Order 4.0 regulation was to be adopted, Brennan was given 10 minutes to touch upon the regulation. His testimony was primarily based on his long-term programs analysis on cowl crops and compost use in intensive natural vegetable manufacturing programs. His presentation is on the market to look at right here. For Brennan, it was the expertise of actually being in the suitable place on the proper time, and with the suitable analysis to share. “This was crucial presentation I’ve given in my profession,” Brennan later stated. In ten minutes he succinctly and convincingly argued that the regulation was scientifically flawed and offered cowl crop knowledge from the long-term natural system research in Salinas to elucidate repair it.

In the course of the Q&A that adopted the presentation, all 5 board members unanimously voted to alter the regulation as he had steered. “It was actually wonderful to witness this occur reside,” Brennan stated. Considered one of Brennan’s colleagues at UC Berkeley even referred to as the listening to a “nail-biter.” The total three-hour adoption listening to is on the market to look at right here.

Trials of canopy crop for Ag Order 4.0

Ag Order 4.0, was adopted in 2021 by the Central Coast Regional Water High quality Management Board. To be able to meet its targets of defending water and minimizing discharges this regulatory program establishes nitrogen discharge targets and limits over time, ratcheting down allowed values of N utilized minus N faraway from 500 kilos per acre by the tip of 2023 to 50 kilos per acre by the tip of 2051. It offers incentives for farmers to make use of cowl crops, compost, natural fertilizers, and third-party applications to adjust to the regulation and shield the atmosphere. And, partly because of Brennan’s knowledgeable testimony, and enter from colleagues like Richard Smith with the College of California Cooperative Extension, growers can get credit for utilizing cowl crops which have a minimal biomass of 4,500 kilos per acres, and a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio equal to or larger than 20 to 1. 

Quickly after the Ag Order 4.0 regulation was adopted, Brennan and Smith arrange a number of in depth trials funded by the California Leafy Greens Analysis Board to offer farmers with easy methods to fulfill the regulatory necessities. A few of this has been revealed in this paper on predicting cowl crop biomass and this 8 minute video. Eric additionally shares a few of his analysis findings on cowl crop nitrogen credit and estimating cereal cowl crop biomass on this latest 10 minute video.

Varied cowl crops rising within the long-term natural programs trial in Salinas

For extra of Brennan’s ideas on these subjects, you possibly can learn this web page on his USDA Agricultural Analysis Service web site, titled My Philosophy or Views on Sustainability & Natural Agriculture.

We applaud Brennan for placing his analysis into actionable use by civic engagement. His story is a superb instance of the kind of sensible analysis on the USDA-ARS that’s serving to natural and standard farmers enhance the sustainability of their programs, and informing coverage makers so laws are primarily based in actuality and farmers get the assist and knowledge they want.

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