Agriculture

Indoor farming takes root at University of Toronto - Mississauga
March 16, 2017 08:47 AM - University of Toronto

At University of Toronto Mississauga, a plastic tower sprouts produce including curly starbor kale, buttercrunch and collard greens.

Rising almost six feet off the ground and illuminated by high output fluorescent bulbs, the indoor farm wall grows plants hydroponically – with nutrient solution, instead of soil. The water nourishes the roots, collects in a gutter and then recirculates back to a nutrient tank that feeds back into the hydroponic system.

Eating healthier food could reduce greenhouse gas emissions
March 16, 2017 06:59 AM - Julie Cohen, UC Santa Barbara

You are what you eat, as the saying goes, and while good dietary choices boost your own health, they also could improve the health care system and even benefit the planet. Healthier people mean not only less disease but also reduced greenhouse gas emissions from health care. As it turns out, some relatively small diet tweaks could add up to significant inroads in addressing climate change.

Study quantifies role of legacy phosphorus in reduced water quality
March 15, 2017 08:43 AM - University of Wisconsin - Madison

For decades, phosphorous has accumulated in Wisconsin soils. Though farmers have taken steps to reduce the quantity of the agricultural nutrient applied to and running off their fields, a new study from the University of Wisconsin–Madison reveals that a “legacy” of abundant soil phosphorus in the Yahara watershed of Southern Wisconsin has a large, direct and long-lasting impact on water quality.

What makes farmers try new practices?
March 15, 2017 07:27 AM - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Change is never easy. But when it comes to adopting new agricultural practices, some farmers are easier to convince than others.

Did humans create the Sahara Desert?
March 14, 2017 11:23 AM - Frontiers via EurekAlert!

New research investigating the transition of the Sahara from a lush, green landscape 10,000 years ago to the arid conditions found today, suggests that humans may have played an active role in its desertification. 

The desertification of the Sahara has long been a target for scientists trying to understand climate and ecological tipping points. A new paper published in Frontiers in Earth Science by archeologist Dr. David Wright, from Seoul National University, challenges the conclusions of most studies done to date that point to changes in the Earth's orbit or natural changes in vegetation as the major driving forces.

Humans Made the Banana Perfect—But Soon, It'll Be Gone
March 14, 2017 08:38 AM - Rob Dunn, Wired

On a plate, a single banana seems whimsical—yellow and sweet, contained in its own easy-to-open peel. It is a charming breakfast luxury as silly as it is delicious and ever-present. Yet when you eat a banana the flavor on your tongue has complex roots, equal parts sweetness and tragedy.

Humans Made the Banana Perfect—But Soon, It'll Be Gone
March 14, 2017 08:38 AM - Rob Dunn, Wired

On a plate, a single banana seems whimsical—yellow and sweet, contained in its own easy-to-open peel. It is a charming breakfast luxury as silly as it is delicious and ever-present. Yet when you eat a banana the flavor on your tongue has complex roots, equal parts sweetness and tragedy.

MSU researcher studies effects of weather variability and market dynamics on maple syrup production
March 14, 2017 08:32 AM - Montana State University

A Montana State University assistant professor of sustainable food systems who has conducted research all over the world is turning her attention to maple syrup.

Some farmers in the United States and Canada have noticed that the quantity and quality of their maple syrup is changing with climate variability, said Selena Ahmed from MSU's Department of Health and Human Development in the College of Education, Health and Human Development. Ahmed is co-leading a team of researchers who are investigating these observations.

Organic is only one ingredient in recipe for sustainable food future
March 13, 2017 08:41 AM - University of British Columbia (UBC)

Many people choose organic thinking it’s better for humans and the planet, but a new UBC study published today in Science Advances finds that might not always be the case.

Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
March 10, 2017 01:34 PM - Jeff Mulhollem via Penn State

Growing sustainable energy crops without increasing greenhouse gas emissions, may be possible on seasonally wet, environmentally sensitive landscapes, according to researchers who conducted a study on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land.

Debasish Saha, postdoctoral scholar in plant sciences, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, and colleagues measured the amount of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, emanating from plots of biofuels-producing switchgrass — a native perennial grass — and miscanthus — a non-native grass species — growing in an experimental area in eastern central Pennsylvania and compared it to emissions from adjacent, undisturbed CRP acres. The experiment took place in a long-term monitoring site managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

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