Agriculture

Long-term solutions needed to feed the world's poor
April 17, 2009 08:23 AM - David Dickson, SciDevNet

More agricultural research funding and a farmer-centred approach to boosting food production are needed to prevent future food emergencies.

New study warns damage to forests from climate change could cost the planet its major keeper of greenhouse gases
April 17, 2009 06:59 AM - The Collaborative Partnership on Forests

The critical role of forests as massive "sinks" for absorbing greenhouse gases is "at risk of being lost entirely" to climate change-induced environmental stresses that threaten to damage and even decimate forests worldwide, according to a new report released today. The report will be formally presented at the next session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) taking place 20 April-1 May 2009 at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

Midwestern ethanol plants use much less water than western plants, U of Minnesota study says

Ethanol production in Minnesota and Iowa uses far less water overall than similar processes in states where water is less plentiful, a new University of Minnesota study shows. The study, which will be published in the April 15 edition of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, is the first to compare water use in corn-ethanol production on a state-by-state basis. The authors used agricultural and geologic data from 2006-2008 to develop a ratio showing how much irrigated water was used to grow and harvest the corn and to process it at ethanol plants. Among the major ethanol-producing states, Iowa uses the least water, with about six gallons of water used for each gallon of ethanol. Minnesota, which in 2007 produced roughly a third as much ethanol as Iowa, uses about 19 gallons of water per ethanol gallon.

Got Nature? Why You Need to Get Out
April 13, 2009 04:30 PM - Andrea Thompson, Live Science

In our increasingly urbanized world, it turns out that a little green can go a long way toward improving our health, not just that of the planet. That could mean something as simple as a walk in the park or just a tree viewed through a window. It's not necessarily the exercise that is the key. It's the refreshing contact with nature and its uncomplicated demands on us.

New formula for US-South research funding
April 13, 2009 08:47 AM - Sharon Davis, SciDevNet

North–South agricultural research partnerships will gain another source of funding thanks to a new partnership in which the country's National Science Foundation (NSF) can get involved in collaboration with developing-country scientists.

Jackson: EPA Seeks Clarity in Rules, May Regulate Animal Waste
April 13, 2009 06:02 AM - Water & Wastewater News

Lisa Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, asserted at a forum for the PBS Frontline documentary Poisoned Waters that new legislation is needed to strengthen EPA's authority to control pollution and protect local rivers, streams, and wetlands. Jackson, speaking at the National Press Club, said that court decisions had left "murkiness" about EPA's authority to enforce some mandates of the Clean Water Act. She said EPA would seek new legislation to "clarify" its authority to take action on smaller waterways.

Tiny super-plant can clean up animal waste and be used for ethanol production
April 7, 2009 10:29 AM - North Carolina State University

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that a tiny aquatic plant can be used to clean up animal waste at industrial hog farms and potentially be part of the answer for the global energy crisis. Their research shows that growing duckweed on hog wastewater can produce five to six times more starch per acre than corn, according to researcher Dr. Jay Cheng. This means that ethanol production using duckweed could be "faster and cheaper than from corn," says fellow researcher Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp.

Can Organic Cropping Systems Be As Profitable As Conventional Systems?
April 7, 2009 09:14 AM - ScienceDaily

Which is a better strategy, specializing in one crop or diversified cropping? Is conventional cropping more profitable than organic farming? Is it less risky?

Mexico City vows to protect historic maize varieties
April 6, 2009 02:52 PM - Arturo Barba, SciDevNet

Mexico City has announced that it will take steps to protect more than 60 maize breeds known to grow in its territory, also known as the Mexican Altiplano. The announcement came just days before the Mexican Government said that it would allow the experimental cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize in other parts of the country.

New England's sugar country confronts a bitter future as the climate warms
April 6, 2009 09:09 AM - David Biello, Daily Climate

All farming depends on the weather, but few foods are more dependent on a specific climate than maple syrup. After all, for the sugar maple's sap to run at all requires cooperative weather — freezing nights followed by warmer days. But thanks to the build-up of invisible greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, those temperature swings don't happen as reliably. At risk is an American tradition that stretches back even before Europeans discovered the "New World."

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