Agriculture

Can organic crops compete with industrial agriculture?
December 10, 2014 09:07 AM - UC Berkeley

A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming.

Drugs released in environment affect plant growth
December 5, 2014 02:04 PM - University of Exeter

The drugs we release into the environment are likely to have a significant impact on plant growth, finds a new study led by the University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University. By assessing the impacts of a range of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the research has shown that the growth of edible crops can be affected by these chemicals – even at the very low concentrations found in the environment.

The critical role crops play in the Earth's CO2 cycle
December 4, 2014 01:13 PM - Kelly April Tyrrell, University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Each year, the planet balances its budget. The carbon dioxide absorbed by plants in the spring and summer as they convert solar energy into food is released back to the atmosphere in autumn and winter. Levels of the greenhouse gas fall, only to rise again.

But the budget has gotten bigger. Over the last five decades, the magnitude of this rise and fall has grown nearly 50 percent in the Northern Hemisphere, as the amount of the greenhouse gas taken in and released has increased. Now, new research shows that humans and their crops have a lot to do with it, highlighting the profound impact people have on the Earth’s atmosphere.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
December 3, 2014 10:18 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or The People’s Tree, began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide The People’s Tree. This national forest also works with state forests to provide companion trees that are smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C. 

 

This year, the 88-foot-tall white spruce tree was harvested from the Chippewa National Forest in northeastern Minnesota by Jim Scheff who won the Logger of the Year award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI). 

 

That begs the question how can a logger win an award from a sustainability group? 

Do you know what makes an organic apple different from one that is not labeled organic?
December 3, 2014 07:25 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

Now that the organic marketing concept has been around for a few generations, you’d think it would be easier to win consumers over. According to a recent survey by BFG Consulting it is. With the plethora of stores that now handle everything from organic bananas to pesticide-free, organically made canned food, today’s shoppers have little problem tracking down that “back-to-basics” version in or around the produce isle.

The only thing is, do they really know what it is? Would they be able to explain what it is that makes it stand out from regularly grown food? According to BFG’s research, not necessarily.

Is Premium Milk on the Horizon?
December 1, 2014 09:41 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Could premium milk be the greatest coup for beverage companies since bottled water? Coca-Cola apparently thinks so. Like its competitors within the beverage industry, the company is trying to find new ways to boost profits since their flagship products, fizzy drinks, have long been suffering from flat sales. While more consumers avoid both sugary and diet sodas and hipsters find alternatives from cold brewed bottled coffee to kombucha, Coca-Cola’s shareholders want increased sales. Premium milk could be the answer for Coke. Coca-Cola is a major investor in Fairlife, which promises to transform the dairy industry by providing “more vroom for your milk.” Starting with the marketing, this is not your parents’ or grandparents’ dairy: instead of pastoral scenes of farmers and cows, the ads are a composite of Alicia Silverstone Aerosmith videos, Marilyn Monroe’s iconic Seven Year Itch photo and a certain scene in Something about Mary. So what is all the fuss about? After all, it is just milk, right? Not according to Coca-Cola. 

Small farms the key to increasing food production
November 22, 2014 08:59 PM - , The Ecologist

All over the world, small farmers are being forced off their land to make way for corporate agriculture, writes GRAIN - and it's justified by the need to 'feed the world'. But it's the small farmers that are the most productive, and the more their land is grabbed, the more global hunger increases. We must give them their land back!

The data show that the concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. As part of the celebrations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released its annual 'State of Food and Agriculture', which this year is dedicated to family farming.

 

Farms as sites for renewable energy
November 21, 2014 07:00 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

UK farms could be a major player in a shift towards a resilient, low-carbon energy system, according to a landmark report launched today by the Farm Power coalition. 

The coalition, which is made up of a growing number of farming bodies, businesses and NGOs, are now calling on policymakers and other key stakeholders, including supermarkets, to support the renewable energy vision.

The research carried out by sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future, which leads the coalition, and Nottingham Trent University, found there was at least 10GW of untapped resource across UK farms – equivalent to more than three times the installed capacity of the proposed new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C.

Water-saving Technology for Rice Farms Introduced
November 10, 2014 10:07 AM - Fatima Arkin, SciDevNet

Agriculture experts say application of alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology in Vietnam’s rice farms, one of South-East Asia’s largest rice-producing countries, holds great promise in cutting water use and greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation without sacrificing yield output. Vietnam along with Bangladesh and Colombia recently partnered with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to introduce the large-scale application of AWD, also known as controlled irrigation in which farmers periodically drain rice paddies rather than keeping them perpetually flooded.

Urban Farming proving successful in Wheeling, West Virginia
November 5, 2014 07:33 PM - Crystal Shepeard, Care2

In 2008, Danny Swan was a junior at Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia. The town was a shadow of its former self as a thriving hub for the coal and steel industries. As America turned to more green energy and offshore production, jobs and people abandoned the town. Left behind were abandoned buildings, crime and a depressed community.

Danny Swan spent his time between classes gardening in the backyard of the university residence he lived in and volunteering at an after-school program for inner-city kids. He was in search of a way to expand the concrete urban world of the children he worked with. His solution was found right across the street from the chapel that housed the program, underneath a highway overpass.  

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