The Soil Health Revolution

May 31, 2017 Guest Authors 0

The possibility of a win-win for farmers and the environment is a driving force for the soil health movement. It is a management philosophy centered around four simple principles: reduce or eliminate tillage, keep plant residues on the soil surface, keep living roots in the ground, and maximize diversity of plants and animals.

Can We Save the Algae Biofuel Industry?

May 30, 2017 Guest Authors 0

In the last decade or so, vast amounts of money have been invested in the development of algae for biofuel production. This made sense because, ten years ago, there was a need to find alternatives to fossil fuels due to the high oil price and the increasing recognition that carbon emissions were causing climate change. Algal biofuels were touted as the answer to these twin problems, and huge investment followed.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite to plan.

Does Industry Funding for Research Poison the Well?

May 29, 2017 Guest Authors 0

When a research team included an industry partner, our participants were generally less likely to think the scientists would consider a full range of evidence and listen to different voices. An industry partner also reduced how much participants believed any resulting data would provide meaningful guidance for making decisions.

Crop Insurance Subsidies Should Be Capped

May 25, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Large farms should be able to buy crop insurance on every acre, but there should be limits to the amount of their bill that taxpayers are responsible for. Other subsidy programs have a payment limit. Why should crop insurance be different?

Have We Lost 75% of Crop Diversity? It’s Not That Simple

May 17, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Colin K. Khoury of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture looks at claims that 75% of crop diversity has been lost in the modern era. Instead, he finds that though there have been winners and losers among crops as agriculture has intensified, over the past 50 years, almost all countries’ diets actually became more diverse, not less, for the crops that FAO statistics do report.

Palm Oil Production Frozen Over Company Abuses

May 15, 2017 Guest Authors 0

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has frozen Goodhope Asia Holdings palm oil operations on seven concessions in Indonesia. The company had been linked to various cases of environmental and human rights abuses in the archipelago country, including allegations of grabbing land from an indigenous community in Papua province, on the heavily forested island of New Guinea, where the industry is quickly expanding.

Anatomy of a USRTK Hit Job

May 11, 2017 Kevin Folta 0

Kevin Folta takes you through, step by step, how the anti-GMO smear machine of US Right to Know works to vault their propaganda and character assassinations into the mainstream press.

Crop Probiotics: How More Science and Less Hype Can Help Farmers

May 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

While crop probiotics offer an ecologically friendly option for farmers looking to improve and protect their harvests, the Australian market is far from reliable.

Our research group was asked to evaluate commercial crop probiotics. Over a year of experimentation on a sugarcane farm, we tracked the supposedly beneficial bacteria and fungi of two Australian probiotics products from soil to crop.

DNA analysis didn’t detect changes in root-associated bacteria, but the composition of root-associated fungi changed.

Facing up to Phosphorus

May 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Farmers around the world have come to depend on manufactured inorganic fertilizers containing key plant nutrients phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium to enhance soil fertility, especially in the otherwise poor soils of most tropical settings. But while all three are relatively abundant in nature, commercially viable sources of phosphorus to make these fertilizers could be exhausted just a few decades from now. That prospect, which remains a source of heated debate, has spurred a drive to recover the significant quantities of this element that disappear in the waste streams of cities and farms.

The Cult of Perma

April 28, 2017 Graham Strouts 0

Graham Strouts deconstructs the meaning and definition of permaculture and exposes the lack of data, rigor, and evidence to support any claims for superior productivity or environmental impact to the modes of production it is meant to serve as an alternative to.

When all is said and done, any contribution permaculture has to make will be practices that work will work independent of the whole edifice. Just as “alternative medicine” that works is just called “medicine” so anything that could be shown to work in what is called “permaculture” is simply “good farming”, “good design” or “good engineering”.

Milking Scapegoats

April 28, 2017 National Farmer's Union 0

Wisconsin farmer Chris Holman sorts out the issues in the dairy industry laid bare by Grassland Dairy Products announcement that they were dropping 75 farms as suppliers and the finger pointing by the Trump administration as it tries to deflect attention away from domestic troubles towards Canada.