Agriculture

Cultivating cool-for-cash-crops
February 22, 2017 12:52 PM - American Society of Agronomy

When deciding what crops to grow during a season, growers look at several factors. Do the crops have a good yield in their area? Does the area currently have the resources - usually water - to grow that crop? Will the crop give a return on the investment? And, what are the future effects that growing that crop might have on the grower’s fields?

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Agricultural fires in Brazil harm infant health, a warning for the developing world
January 26, 2017 10:02 AM - Michael Hotchkiss via Princeton University

Pollution from the controlled fires that burn across Brazil's São Paulo state during the sugarcane-harvesting season has a negative impact on infant health nearby. But the health of those same infants likely benefits from the economic opportunities the fires bring to their parents.

Researchers at Princeton and Duke universities gathered information from satellites, pollution monitors and birth records to untangle those competing influences and accurately measure the impact of pollution from the fires. They found that exposure to pollution from the fires in the last few months of gestation leads to earlier birth and smaller babies, and they found some evidence of increased fetal mortality. Conditions in early life, including in utero, have been shown to affect children's long-term outcomes, not only in terms of health but also their educational and economic success.

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SPOTLIGHT

The Great Green Wall of Africa

Llowell Williams, Care2

Though a border wall with Mexico is currently a matter of serious discussion in the United States, the aim of which is to prevent the physical movement of people (with few other apparent “benefits”), some walls can actually bring together and preserve communities, rather than divide them.

In only five years, the UN says, around 60 million Africans may be displaced as their land ceases to be arable, a potential humanitarian disaster the scale of which would be unprecedented. This would be devastating to a huge portion of the African continent not only ecologically and economically but socially as well.

That’s where Africa’s ingenious Great Green Wall comes in.

Experts at the United Nations say without action, desertification may claim two-thirds of Africa’s farmlands in under a decade. The Great Green Wall, however, was conceived as a wide-reaching strategy to halt Northern Africa’s rapidly advancing Sahara Desert.

The Great Green Wall, once complete, will stretch an incredible 4,400 miles from Senegal in West Africa to the East African nation of Djibouti. Instead of bricks and mortar, the wall will be made of trees and other vegetation, including plants that can be eaten or used to create medicine.

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