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Agriculture

Agricultural practices to reduce runoff
May 23, 2015 07:27 AM - South Dakota State University via ScienceDaily.

The same spring rains that lessen producers' concerns about drought can also lead to soil erosion and nutrient runoff. Keeping soil and fertilizers where they belong -- in the field -- benefits producers and the environment.

No-till farming, cover crops and rotational grazing will help producers reduce surface runoff to improve soil and water quality, according to South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station researcher Sandeep Kumar, an assistant professor in the SDSU plant science department.

Climate change and human rights
May 22, 2015 07:15 AM - Eniko Horvath, Triple Pundit

Last month, a Peruvian farmer called on German energy company RWE to pay its fair share to protect his home from imminent flooding caused by a glacial lake melted by global warming.  “For a long time, my father and I have thought that those who cause climate change should help solve the problems it causes,” Saul Luciano Lliuya told the Guardian. He holds that RWE, one of Europe’s largest emitters of carbon, has contributed to the greenhouse effect causing glacial melting that endangers his home, along with many others in the city of Huaraz.

Lliuya’s story illustrates the tangible human impacts of climate change, which can easily be forgotten amidst high-level debates over carbon emissions reductions. This is a key year for climate action by both governments and companies.

National-scale effort addresses pollinator declines
May 20, 2015 03:51 PM - Puneet Kollipara, Science/AAAS

A new White House plan to promote the health of bees and other pollinators calls for boosting research into ongoing population declines—and potential solutions. The plan, released yesterday, also recommends numerous measures to address growing concerns about the threat that bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators face from multiple factors, including pathogens, pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss. By addressing scientific knowledge gaps, the research should make the plan’s suggested measures much more effective, the report says.

Future climate of the Midwest hard to predict
May 18, 2015 03:02 PM - Dartmouth College via ScienceDaily.

Will climate change make the U.S. Midwest drier or wetter during the summer growing season? A new Dartmouth-led study finds that the answer remains uncertain.

The findings are important given the Midwest's agricultural output is critical to the U.S. economy and global food security.

The study appears in the journal Water Resources Research. The study included researchers from Dartmouth College, Columbia University, National University of Singapore and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

40% of Honey Bee Colonies Lost Last Year
May 13, 2015 10:53 AM - University of Maryland

Beekeepers across the United States lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2014 to April 2015, according to the latest results of an annual nationwide survey led by a University of Maryland professor. While winter loss rates improved slightly compared to last year, summer losses—and consequently, total annual losses—were more severe. Commercial beekeepers were hit particularly hard by the high rate of summer losses, which outstripped winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies. 

Biofuels: the right crop at the right place
May 12, 2015 04:48 PM - Radboud University

Corn, wheat and rapeseed can be used to produce biofuels, such as bioethanol and biodiesel. According to recent findings by environmental scientists at Radboud University, the location of the agricultural lands used to grow these biofuel crops has a major impact on the greenhouse gas emission they ultimately produce. The study that arrived at this conclusion is due to be published by Nature Climate Change on 11 May.

Vineyard Habitats Attract Butterflies
May 11, 2015 04:35 PM - Scott Weybright, Washington State University

Washington wine grape vineyards experimenting with sustainable pest management systems are seeing an unexpected benefit: an increase in butterflies. Over the years, loss in natural habitat has seen the decline in numbers of around 50 species of butterflies in eastern Washington. But in a recent Washington State University study published in the June issue of the Journal of Insect Conservation, researchers found that vineyards that create nearby natural habitats have three times the number of butterfly species and four times more butterflies than conventional vineyards.

Could pumpkins be the answer to the food/biofuel crop dilemma?
May 11, 2015 08:48 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

As concern remains over the need to convert millions of acres of crop land to meet the ever-increasing biofuel demand, a new study has found pumpkins could provide the answer to sharing between food and fuel.

Hormones used to stimulate growth in farm animals lead to more human exposure than thought
May 8, 2015 07:39 AM - INDIANA UNIVERSITY via EurekAlert.

Research by an Indiana University environmental scientist and colleagues at universities in Iowa and Washington finds that potentially harmful growth-promoting hormones used in beef production are expected to persist in the environment at higher concentrations and for longer durations than previously thought.

"What we release into the environment is just the starting point for a complex series of chemical reactions that can occur, sometimes with unintended consequences," said Adam Ward, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. "When compounds react in a way we don't anticipate -- when they convert between species, when they persist after we thought they were gone -- this challenges our regulatory system."

How forests can end global hunger
May 6, 2015 08:46 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Forests and forestry are essential to achieve global food security as the limits of boosting agricultural production are becoming increasingly clear, a new study published today reveals. The findings are included in the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date on the relationship among forests, food and nutrition launched today in New York at a side event of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

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