Agriculture

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."

Growing demand for soybeans threatens Amazon rainforest
January 6, 2010 07:15 AM - Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute, EurActiv

"Some 3,000 years ago, farmers in eastern China domesticated the soybean. In 1765, the first soybeans were planted in North America. Today the soybean occupies more US cropland than wheat. And in Brazil, where it spread even more rapidly, the soybean is invading the Amazon rainforest," writes Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, in a December commentary.

Pope Benedict: think globally, act locally, urges lifestyle changes to save environment
January 1, 2010 01:26 PM - Reuters

Pope Benedict used his traditional New Year address on Friday to call on people to change their lifestyles to save the planet, saying environmental responsibility was essential for global peace.

Snow cover hampers harvest of U.S. corn crop
December 29, 2009 06:31 AM - Reuters

As much as 100 million bushels of U.S. corn could be lost after heavy snowstorms in recent days likely delayed until spring the final stages of an already historically slow harvest, analysts and meteorologists said on Monday. The harvest delays helped to push up corn futures more than 1 percent to a six-month high on Monday at the Chicago Board of Trade. "There are 620 million bushels left in the field and we could lose 10 percent of that," said Joe Victor, analyst for Illinois-based research and consulting firm Allendale Inc.

Dairy Farmers to do Their Part to Slow Climate Change
December 23, 2009 06:30 AM - Editor, ENN

The US Department of Agriculture announced an agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate adoption of innovative manure to energy projects on American dairy farms. The agreement represents a dynamic public/private partnership and is another demonstration of the Obama Administration's commitment to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases.

NASA Study Shows Major Groundwater Loss in California Since 2003
December 16, 2009 07:27 AM - Editor, ENN

A new study released by NASA shows that the aquifers for California's primary agricultural region -- the Central Valley -- and its major mountain water source -- the Sierra Nevadas -- have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir. The findings, based on data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), reflect California's extended drought and increased rates of groundwater being pumped for human uses, such as irrigation.

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