Andrea Basche

Kendall Science Fellow

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Andrea Basche is a Kendall Science Fellow in the UCS Food & Environment program. Her research focuses on the potential for agroecological farming systems to reduce the risk and costs of increasing drought. In addition to her work on the benefits of ecologically-based farm practices, she helps further UCS research into the links between agriculture and climate. See Andrea's full bio.

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Photo credit: Rich Hayes

Floods, Droughts, and Soil: The Movie (or, Why I Destroyed a Small City for Page Views)

Our new report, Turning Soils into Sponges: How Farmers Can Fight Floods and Droughts, is a serious scientific analysis that documents how soil-covering farm practices can help farmers and communities better withstand rainfall variability. It took me the better part of two years to complete. But—lucky you!—we also made a quirky little movie about it that you can watch in less than three minutes. Read more >

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Soil scientist Natalie Lounsbury and farmer Jack Gurley inspect a tillage radish cover crop as part of a project funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program. This plant’s roots penetrate soil deeply, reducing compaction, and increasing water infiltration, making it an excellent cover crop to improve soil structure. Image: USDA-SARE/Edwin Remsberg.

How Healthier Soils Help Farms and Communities Downstream Deal with Floods and Droughts

A scan of recent news reveals the wide-ranging impacts of too much or too little rain: intensifying drought in the Great Plains; the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico ever recorded, driven in large part by a wet spring that flooded parts of the Midwestern Corn Belt; and historic summertime rain in the mid-Atlantic. Climate change promises to bring more of this rainfall variability, with devastating effects on farmers and communities. But a new report we released today contains good news: healthier soil on farms can help combat the impact of floods and droughts.

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Photo: USDA-ARS/Scott Bauer

Northern Plains Drought Shows (Again) that Failing to Plan for Disasters = Planning to Fail

As the dog days of summer wear on, the northern plains are really feeling the heat. Hot, dry weather has quickly turned into the nation’s worst current drought in Montana and the Dakotas, and drought conditions are slowly creeping south and east into the heart of the Corn Belt. Another year and another drought presents yet another opportunity to consider how smart public policies could make farmers and rural communities more resilient to these recurring events. Read more >

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A riparian buffer region interspersed in crops on the landscape near Dallas, Texas. All the photos in this post are from the National Agroforestry Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, created by the Farm Bill in 1990 to accelerate the growth of agroforestry through a national network of partners. They coordinate research, education, outreach as well as demonstration sites and also develop tools and technology.

Arbor Day and Agroforestry: Green Infrastructure for Agriculture

Growing up I remember looking forward to Arbor Day as a time when we celebrated planting trees in school, a tradition I came to enjoy in April. As an adult—and as an agricultural scientist interested in how we diversify farms—Arbor Day is an opportune reminder of the benefits that trees and crops have when used together (much more than turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, which was the major selling point I learned as a kid). This has an official name: agroforestry. In the spirit of Arbor Day, I want to celebrate the diverse benefits of agroforestry, and share more about how we might increase trees in agricultural settings. Read more >

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Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore

Sustainable Agriculture on the Chopping Block in Iowa

There has been unsettling news out of my former home over the last week, as the Iowa legislature plays politics with critical scientific research in the state. In the closing days of the legislative session, two budget bills moved swiftly that could force the closing of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, a nationally recognized center for sustainable agriculture research. Read more >

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