Agriculture

Agricultural insecticides pose a global risk to surface water bodies
February 25, 2015 01:51 PM - Tilo Arnhold, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

Streams within approximately 40% of the global land surface are at risk from the application of insecticides. These were the results from the first global map to be modeled on insecticide runoff to surface waters, which has just been published in the journal Environmental Pollution by researchers from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Koblenz-Landau together with the University of Milan, Aarhus University and Aachen University. According to the publication, particularly streams in the Mediterranean, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia are at risk.

Friendly Fungi Could Help Barley Growers
February 23, 2015 02:08 PM - Trinity College Dublin

Botanists from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough discovery that could save barley farmers sleepless nights and millions of Euro each year: naturally occurring plant-friendly fungi prevent crop-ravishing diseases from spreading, and also aid plant survival in testing environmental conditions. Importantly, these amazing little organisms cause no harm to the plant roots in which they take up their abode. However, their gift of immunity against common seed diseases greatly reduces the need for farmers to spray environmentally damaging chemicals, which can affect ecosystems in a plethora of negative ways.

ENN Releases App for Android Users
February 23, 2015 09:14 AM - ENN Editor

Last month ENN launched a new mobile app available at the iTunes store making it easier for you to connect with us and stay up to date with groundbreaking environmental news. Now, ENN releases the mobile app at Google Play, making it compatible for Android users.

ENN is more than just a gatherer of environmental news but rather a unique set of resources, archives, tools, and experts for the increasingly complex field of environmental science attracting readers from all levels of government, business and academia.

We also encourage you to join the conversation by checking out our Community Blog and by connecting with us on Facebook.

Apple users can download the app at the iTunes store.

Android users can download the app at Google Play.

Make sure you click on the app with the logo shown here.

Giant African land snails invading Cuba
February 20, 2015 07:44 AM - s.e. smith, Care2

Kennedy couldn’t manage it in 1961, but someone else has. According to the BBC, Giant African Land Snails have been spotted on Cuban soil, which is bad news for native molluscs in the island nation as well as numerous plants. As if that weren’t bad enough, they also pose a health risk to people. This is one invasion Cubans definitely want to stop in its tracks, and for once the CIA has absolutely nothing to do with it.

These snails have a number of characteristics that make them a formidable problem in regions where they’ve been introduced, which includes parts of Asia, Central America, and the US. For starters, they’re big. Really big. Giant African Snails typically grow up to eight inches long, and they’ve been known to get even bigger. They lay hundreds of eggs every month, with a very high hatch rate, ensuring that once a few snails make land, they can quickly spread across a region and they’re extremely difficult to stop — in part because applying molluscicide would kill other species. Also introducing predators is also problematic because all of the snail’s natural predators would be more likely to pick on smaller, vulnerable native species.

Plant turns cow manure to ethanol
February 11, 2015 07:53 AM - Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit

Tulare County, California, recently surpassed nearby Fresno County as the top agriculture-producing county in terms of economic value within the U.S. It’s also the country’s top dairy producing county. The result has been more investment and economic growth in a rapidly booming area already home to 450,000 people.

But there is also a downside to the local dairy industry’s continued surge: The San Joaquin Valley suffers from some of worst air pollution in the U.S., and cow effluent is a threat to the region’s already troubled watersheds.

New Study Predicts Plant Responses to Drought
February 10, 2015 04:26 PM - USGS Newsroom

A new U.S. Geological Survey study shows how plants’ vulnerability to drought varies across the landscape; factors such as plant structure and soil type where the plant is growing can either make them more vulnerable or protect them from declines. Recent elevated temperatures and prolonged droughts in many already water-limited regions throughout the world, including the southwestern U.S., are likely to intensify according to future climate model projections.

US considering standards for organic fish farming
February 5, 2015 06:32 AM - KRISTOFOR HUSTED, NPR

When it comes to organic certification, food producers must follow strict guidelines.

For an organic steak, for instance, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed, and the feed mix can't be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish.

Plants Can be 'Reprogrammed' for Drought Tolerance
February 4, 2015 03:02 PM - Iqbal Pittalwala, University of California, Riverside

Crops and other plants are constantly faced with adverse environmental conditions, such as rising temperatures (2014 was the warmest year on record) and lessening fresh water supplies, which lower yield and cost farmers billions of dollars annually. Drought is a major environmental stress factor affecting plant growth and development.  When plants encounter drought, they naturally produce abscisic acid (ABA), a stress hormone that inhibits plant growth and reduces water consumption.  Specifically, the hormone turns on a receptor (special protein) in plants when it binds to the receptor like a hand fitting into a glove, resulting in beneficial changes – such as the closing of guard cells on leaves, called stomata, to reduce water loss – that help the plants survive.

Can smoke from fires intensify tornados?
February 3, 2015 12:06 PM - Gary Galluzzo, University of Iowa

Can smoke from fires intensify tornadoes? “Yes,” say University of Iowa researchers, who examined the effects of smoke—resulting from spring agricultural land-clearing fires in Central America—transported across the Gulf of Mexico and encountering tornado conditions already in process in the United States. The UI study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, examined the smoke impacts on a historic severe weather outbreak that occurred during the afternoon and evening of April 27, 2011. 

ADHD linked to pesticide exposure
January 29, 2015 06:57 AM - Rutgers University

A commonly used pesticide may alter the development of the brain’s dopamine system -- responsible for emotional expression and cognitive function – and increase the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, according to a new Rutgers study.

Mice exposed to a commonly used pesticide in utero and through lactation exhibited several features of ADHD, including dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, hyperactivity, working memory, attention deficits and impulsive-like behavior.

The research published Wednesday in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), by Rutgers scientists and colleagues from Emory University, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Wake Forest University discovered that mice exposed to the pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin in utero and through lactation exhibited several features of ADHD, including dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, hyperactivity, working memory, attention deficits and impulsive-like behavior.

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