Agriculture

Insecticide beats DDT in early trials
February 22, 2010 09:35 PM - Esther Tola, SciDevNet

Malaria researchers in Benin say they may have found a replacement for DDT in areas where mosquitoes are resistant to common insecticides. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) of insecticides is a major part of malaria control. But worries over toxicity and environmental persistence have led to calls for DDT to be phased out, and mosquitoes are growing resistant to widely used pyrethroid insecticides. Alternatives are expensive and short-lived.

Mongolia mining impacted by bitter winter
February 22, 2010 06:42 AM - Ulan Bator, Reuters

As Mongolia cowers under the brutal thrall of its worst winter in decades, questions are being asked as to whether the country should end its reliance on nomadic herders and dig deeper into its mineral reserves instead. Some 800 years ago, Mongolia's nomadic herdsmen were surging across the steppe under the leadership of Genghis Khan and conquering China, Tibet and much of central Asia. Today, most of their descendents are at the mercy of the hostile Mongolian weather or crammed in the capital, Ulan Bator, where they struggle to make a living even though the country sits on some of the world's richest mineral reserves.

DDT found in children from Mexico and Central America
February 18, 2010 03:37 PM - Lucina Melesio, SciDevNet

Children from several Latin American countries have traces of the pesticide DDT in their blood, according to a study coordinated by the Pan American Health Organization. The children studied belong to 11 rural communities in Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama). In all but Guatemala, the researchers found exposure to DDT.

Overuse of fertilizer in China leads to soil acidification
February 18, 2010 06:35 AM - Editor, Ecologist

Overuse of nitrogen fertilisers in China is leading to rapid soil acidification and is causing lasting damage to ecosystems, according to soil study Nitrogen fertilisers used to increase crop yields in China are having "extreme" environmental consequences, according to a study from leading soil scientists.

Climate change affecting Kenya's coffee output
February 11, 2010 07:02 AM - Helen Nyambura-Mwaura, Reuters

Climate change has affected Kenyan coffee production through unpredictable rainfall patterns and excessive droughts, making crop management and disease control a nightmare, a researcher said on Thursday. Intermittent rainfall in the 2007/08 crop year, for example, caused a terrible bout of the Coffee Berry Disease that cut Kenyan output 23 percent to 42,000 metric tons as farmers were caught out by rains and did not protect their crop in time. "We have seen climate change in intermittent rainfall patterns, extended drought and very high temperatures," said Joseph Kimemia, director of research at Kenya's Coffee Research Foundation (CRF).

Beans climb to new heights in Rwanda
February 8, 2010 06:55 AM - Ochieng' Ogodo, SciDevNet

Climbing beans suited to rainy high-altitude areas are being distributed in Rwanda after a decade of research. The fifteen varieties, developed by the Rwandan Agricultural Research Institute (ISAR) in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), could benefit smallholder farmers in similar areas across Central and East Africa. Unlike the more commonly-planted 'bush beans', the beans are resistant to legume diseases such as anthracnose, root rot and ascochyta, which are found in damp, higher altitude areas.

How to Feed the Billions
February 4, 2010 12:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A Malthusian catastrophe was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. The catastrophe is that in doing so many people will starve. Sometime around 2050, there are going to be nine billion people roaming this planet two billion more than there are today. It's a safe bet that all those folks will want to eat. Still, not everyone's convinced that feeding nine billion people is a totally impossible task. A Malthusian catastrophe has been predicted before to happen and has not yet done so, A new paper published this week in Science written by Britain's chief scientific adviser John Beddington along with others, outlines a way this could actually be done.

El Nino to boost 2010 U.S. crops
January 29, 2010 06:33 AM - Michael Hirtzer, Reuters

U.S. farmers grew record-large corn and soy crops in 2009 but production in 2010 could be even bigger, aided by an El Nino weather pattern that is typically a boon to the Midwest but less so for growers in Australia and southeast Asia, a forecaster said on Thursday. Allen Motew, meteorologist at QT Weather, forecast a dry U.S. spring, which should minimize problems at planting time, followed by a favorably wet summer growing season.

Methane's Key Role in Global Warming
January 27, 2010 07:24 AM - Richard Harris, NPR

Carbon dioxide is the gas we most associate with global warming, but methane gas also plays an important role. For reasons that are not well understood, methane gas stopped increasing in the atmosphere in the 1990s. But now it appears to be once again on the rise. Scientists are trying to understand why — and what to do about it.

Largest U.S. farm group rallies against climate bill
January 11, 2010 06:42 AM - Charles Abbott, Reuters

The largest U.S. farm group will oppose aggressively "misguided" climate legislation pending in Congress and fight animal rights activists, said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman on Sunday. In a speech opening the four-day AFBF convention, Stallman said American farmers and ranchers "must aggressively respond to extremists" and "misguided, activist-driven regulation ... The days of their elitist power grabs are over."

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