• Increased grazing helps improve soil

    The world's soil is in trouble. Ecologists say without dramatic changes to how we manage land, vast swathes of grassland are at risk of turning into hard-packed desert. To make sure that doesn't happen, researchers are testing out innovative ways to keep moisture in the soil. In eastern Colorado, one way could be in the plodding hooves of cattle. Conventional wisdom tells you that if ranchland ground has less grass, the problem is too many cows. But that's not always the case. It depends on how you manage them, if you make sure they keep moving. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Women Can Help Lower Food Losses

    Further investment in agricultural research is essential if we are to avert a global famine caused by inadequate crop yields and a growing population in the coming decades, according to the director of the Global Wheat Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. Women have a key role to play in reducing food loss at the production, post-harvest and processing stages, but face many barriers in doing so. Such research could help bring these issues to the forefront. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate change has the potential for significant impacts on coffee

    An inconvenient truth is not what most people want to hear before they’ve had their first cup of coffee in the morning. Our coffee break is “me time,” and we want to enjoy it. If the temperature is too high, put some ice in your cup. But for some 26 million people around the world who make it their business to produce our coffee, change is impossible to ignore. >> Read the Full Article
  • Half of key wild crops missing from gene banks

    Gene banks are missing more than half the wild relatives of the world's most important food crops — which potentially harbour traits for higher yields, and resistance to disease and climate change — according to a study. Scientists looked at 29 staple crops, including rice, wheat and potato, and found that around 240 of their 450 wild relatives need collecting and placing in gene banks. They published their findings on the Crop Wild Relatives website last week (22 July). >> Read the Full Article
  • Illegal marijuana cultivation threatens Nigeria's forests and chimps

    The world's highest deforestation rate, the execution of eight environmental activists including a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and ongoing turmoil surrounding oil operations in the Niger River Delta has created a notoriously disreputable environmental record for the West African country. Now, a new threat is rising in the already-compromised forests of Nigeria: illegal marijuana cultivation. >> Read the Full Article
  • Pope Francis and the Amazon Rainforest

    In response to Pope Francis’ Amazon-themed speech to Brazilian bishops, World Wildlife Fund’s Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of WWF’s Sacred Earth program, issued the following statement: "We're grateful that Pope Francis is adding his influential voice to the growing number of faith leaders around the world who are recognizing the importance of protecting our planet from environmental harm. And we're especially thankful he's urging young people to be problem solvers on behalf of the entire planet and all of God's creations." "Pope Francis' compassionate speech today asking bishops to respect the environment in which we live and to continue to protect the Amazon will reach millions and carry historic importance." "WWF applauds Pope Francis' uplifting World Youth Day message calling for 'respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden." >> Read the Full Article
  • Pesticides Found in Sierra Nevada Frogs

    Even though DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, it’s byproduct, DDE, is still one of the most widely detected compounds in our natural environment. And this compound along with several other pesticides and fungicides are being detected in innocent wildlife. A recent study conducted by the USGS California Water Science Center and the USGS Western Ecological Research Center shows that frogs in the Sierra Nevada mountain habitats have concentrations of these pesticides within their tissues. "Our results show that current-use pesticides, particularly fungicides, are accumulating in the bodies of Pacific chorus frogs in the Sierra Nevada," says Kelly Smalling, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the study. "This is the first time we’ve detected many of these compounds, including fungicides, in the Sierra Nevada. The data generated by this study support past research on the potential of pesticides to be transported by wind or rain from the Central Valley to the Sierras." >> Read the Full Article
  • The impact of global warming on snow pack

    The impacts of a warming planet are widespread and diverse. The amount of snow the American west receives each year is a significant factor in how much water is available for agricultural irrigation and human consumption. A new report projects that by the middle of this century there will be an average 56 percent drop in the amount of water stored in peak snowpack in the McKenzie River watershed of the Oregon Cascade Range - and that similar impacts may be found on low-elevation maritime snow packs around the world. The findings by scientists at Oregon State University, which are based on a projected 3.6 degree Fahrenheit temperature increase, highlight the special risks facing many low-elevation, mountainous regions where snow often falls near the freezing point. In such areas, changing from snow to rain only requires a very modest rise in temperature. >> Read the Full Article
  • Oil palm genome mapped, could boost yields, reduce pressure on rainforests

    A team of Malaysian and American researchers have mapped the genome of the oil palm, the oilseed that is widely used as a cooking oil and in cosmetics, cleaning products, and processed foods. The genome sequencing, which was published today in the journal Nature, identified the gene responsible for regulating the crop's oil yield. The results could be used to boost palm oil yields, thus potentially reducing the need to clear wildlife-rich rainforests and carbon-dense peat swamps for plantations. The gene, dubbed the "Shell gene", controls "how the thickness of its shell correlates to fruit size and oil yield," according to Rajinder Singh, first author of the paper and a scientist at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), a government agency. >> Read the Full Article
  • Computer model gives early warning of crop failure

    An international team of researchers has developed a computer model to predict global crop failures several months before harvest. Since 2008, widespread drought in crop-exporting regions has resulted in large increases in food prices on global commodity markets. With climatic extremes also expected to become more common, being able to predict global crop failures could help developing nations that are reliant on food imports — making them more resilient to spikes in food prices. >> Read the Full Article