• Mary Ellen Cannon

Weathering the Change


What changes have you seen weather wise in your life?

Thanksgiving Eve many NH USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service staff attended a webinar presented by Elizabeth Marks and Dave Hollinger of the Northeast Climate Hub. Marks is a NRCS employee in New York on a special assignment as liaison to the Northeast Climate Hub. Hollinger is Supervisory Plant Pathologist and director of the Northeast Climate Hub.

Marks drew from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA) state climate summaries (https://statesummaries.ncics.org) to highlight trends in New Hampshire. She spun a positive outlook for the importance of practices the Cheshire County Conservation District and USDA NRCS supports -- cover crops, reduced tillage, and maintaining soil health to name a few.

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Huge cheers for the Cheshire County Conservation District’s proactive approach in seeking grants to help buy equipment to rent or loan out. The Cheshire County Conservation District’s no-till drills, no-till planter, woodash/lime spreader, penetrometer (to check for soil compaction), and aerator, give more options to growers and graziers when they hit the fields each Spring. Irrigation and seasonal high tunnels that USDA NRCS has been helping to finance fit in too for allowing a grower a bit more control.

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Important marks highlighted for New Hampshire:

  • 3 degree rise in temperature (national average is 1.9 degree increase) since 1900

  • Rainfall up 19% since 1895

  • Extreme rain events (over 2 inches) up 140% since 1950

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https://www.climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/northeast has a wealth of information as does the NOAA website. It is extremely easy for me to get lost in either website in a good way—leaping from link to link taking in the maps. If you will be virtual meeting with friends or family from other states checking out their state climate summary could be quite the conversation starter.

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Marks asked for input from audience. NH NRCS staff noted the warmer winters with more mixed precipitation—not like when they were kids. Longer stretches of rain or dry. More ticks! Deb Marnich, soil conservationist in Conway, reported siting an opossum. She now suggests adding in a few plants from warmer growing zones into any mix for permanent plantings to be ahead or with the change.

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For those in the public who are also interested in learning more about these trends from a broader perspective, Elizabeth Marks will be presenting a webinar for the public on Dec 10, 2020 - More Info & registration at: https://www.climatehubs.usda.gov/index.php/hubs/northeast/events/helping-farmers-help-land-through-climate-smart-farming

This webinar likely will be broader in scope of examples than the New Hampshire specific webinar she gave for the NH NRCS staff but the topic is the same. I recommend the websites and her webinar if you get the chance go for it. The maps I’ve shared with you are snipped and pasted from Marks’ webinar for NH NRCS staff. She had many more maps.

And on weathering change… on a personal note...

I will be checking out https://statesummaries.ncics.org for the summary on Colorado as I have accepted an offer to work for NRCS in Colorado as a soil scientist out of Greeley working on Highly Erodible Lands and soils outreach. The CCCD's Staff and Board members have been really wonderful to work with. I can’t say enough to thank them all. So many thanks to all you folks I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with.

Written by: Mary Ellen Cannon

USDA NRCS Soil Conservationist

We will miss you Mary Ellen! Thank you for all you've contributed to conservation in New Hampshire throughout the years! Best of luck in CO!


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