Tricks Are for Kids

June 13, 2017 Marc Brazeau 0

To get a first hand feel for this creepy phenomenon, I hoofed it over to my local Fred Meyer to browse the cereal aisle, a place I’ve only stopped in once before to grab some store brand bran flakes for homemade muesli. There they were, relegated to the bottom shelves. And here’s the creepy thing. They were looking up at me, trying to make eye contact from the place on the floor.

Agvocates: It’s Your Turn to Stop the Mud Slinging

June 12, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Lets’ start this by saying I deplore the use of fear-based imagery in marketing and education. That’s represented in the aforementioned post. But I have also recently called out ‘agvocate’ voices for using hyperbole or bad reasoning in their arguments. When we take sides first and ask questions later, we risk falling on sloppy arguments ourselves. Painting any issue as black or white is a dangerous proposition.

Let’s Stop Burying the Lede in the Organic vs Conventional Debate

June 9, 2017 Marc Brazeau 1

Debunking too often tends to be a team sport and just because it’s inevitable, doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. In food and farm issues, only biotech drives more debunking than the Organic vs Conventional debate. When you are responding to misinformation the “other” side has already defined the terms of the debate and it’s hard to bust out of those frames. Often that means the big picture gets lost.

Stand Up for Family Farmers – Pass the Farmer Fair Practices Rules

June 6, 2017 National Farmer's Union 0

The Farmer Fair Practice Rules consist of one interim final rule and two proposed rules. The interim final rule deals with competitive injury disputes for contract growers. Currently, contract poultry growers must prove harm for the entire $48 billion chicken industry rather than harm to themselves when seeking relief from poultry companies for abusive contract practices. This outrageous interpretation of the Packers and Stockyards Act not only places undue burden on individual growers – it also allows the meatpacking industries to continue abusive practices largely free of consequences. The interim final rule eliminates that burden, thereby taking some power from the multinational meatpackers and placing it with the individual farmers.

Nutrient Management on Steroids

NutrientStar, which assesses fertilizer management products and tools using field trials and in-depth scientific reviews, was a game changer for farmers. Prior to the launch of the program last year, there was no expert review program to help farmers determine what tools would work as advertised.

The only downside of the program was its limited utility. Farmers had no easy way to extrapolate results from the relatively few number of field trials performed thus far to their own locations. Now, a new geospatial feature called the Technology Extrapolation Domain (TED) framework will make NutrientStar accessible to tens of thousands of additional farmers across the Corn Belt.

I like to think of it as NutrientStar on steroids.

Just Say No to “GMO”

June 5, 2017 Kevin Folta 0

Kevin Folta explains why it’s important to use the scientifically accurate term “genetically engineered” to refer to biotech crops and animals rather than the sloppy and baggage laden “GMO”.

We Need Your Data on Conservation Ag Practices

June 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

The Environmental Defense Funds genuinely believes that conservation practices are good for farmers and landowners’ bottom lines. But faith isn’t a strong selling point. They need help putting together the data and the evidence. This is a call to farmers to share their data on conservation practices and how they affect the bottom line.

The Dutch Weed Burger . . . Seaweed, that is.

June 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Five years ago, Kulsom and his colleague Lisette Kreischer founded a company called The Dutch Weed Burger after they shot a documentary about the role of seaweed as a future source of protein. Kulsom says the company’s mission is “to work on the acceptance of seaweed becoming a part of the new paradigm.”

Enter their first product: the weed burger.

At first, a seaweed burger seems like an unusual choice, but it begins to make sense after a while.

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?

Six Tips to Recognize Good Science

May 18, 2017 Guest Authors 0

How can you tell good science from bad science? As the quality of peer review falters and pop science reporting relies on controversy it gets harder all the time. Here are six guidelines for separating the signal from the noise.

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.