Uganadan farmer Richard Namunyu discusses the World Agroforestry Centre’s project – Trees for Food Security: Improving sustainable productivity in farming systems and enhanced livelihoods through adoption of Evergreen agriculture in eastern Africa
Just about every decision made on a farm will send ripple effects throughout the entire system; these decisions will influence the cost/benefit ratio of many future decisions. This complexity makes it difficult to make rapid changes, and is a major reason why many farmers tend to be pretty conservative in their farming decisions. Even if a farmer wants to try something new (a new technology, or a new crop, for example), that option may be precluded by decisions that were made last year, or even many years ago.
Behind many efforts to make agriculture more sustainable is the idea that our farming systems need to be more like nature. in addition to being false, the whole idea of the “balance of nature” is misleading. From it has come the view that ecosystems are a highly complex, integrated system of interactions between species, complexity that is beyond our understanding. The evidence, however, points to different conclusions.
Eager to replace fossil fuels with greener alternatives, the European Union and others have earmarked palm oil as a source of biodiesel. Under the EU’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation policy, biodiesel must save 35% in emissions compared to fossil fuels. However, to supply large quantities of biodiesel would also mean intensifying by increasing the use of nitrogen fertilizer.
You know that greenhouse gases are changing the climate. You probably know drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce, and that we’re living through a mass extinction.
But when did you last worry about phosphorus?
To explain the occurrence of rural resentment, we need to consider empirically how rural lives and places have been changing, and how rural people make sense of these changes. For this purpose, I’ll use Sweden as an example to provide empirical detail that is needed.
Just as with the recent US election, population density – not income, education, or employment – is currently the best predictor of political preference in Sweden. The countryside is vast and a home to farmers, small entrepreneurs, workers in the mineral industries and forestry, and fishers. The latter will be used as an example here to highlight how and why Swedish rural dwellers can feel resentful.
Researchers have identified set of genes that could improve the efficiency of photosynthesis in staple crops. An increase in yields up to 40% for cassava could mean substantial increases in food security for Africa and greatly improved incomes for subsistence farmers.
Giles-Eric Séralini has a new paper out. This one is even worse than the ones that came before. Alison Van Eenennaam explains the how and why.
Claudio Zucca is Senior Soil Conservation and Land Management Specialist at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). On the occasion of the World Soil Day we interviewed him about his experience as a soil scientist and about the challenges and importance of preserving soils in drylands.
The Obama administration White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently released an intriguing report on how the United States can transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050 while continuing economic growth. The report gives a starring role in this job to agricultural lands.
“Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization” outlines a 3-pronged strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent while accelerating job-creating innovation. Calling each strategy “critical,” CEQ first lists the familiar call to transition to renewable and low carbon forms of energy.
The second key strategy, however, is less often discussed: the potential of cropland and grassland soils, as well as forests, to store and sequester hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 annually. The report – informed by decades of scientific research – describes the opportunities to explore in this area.
On Jan. 1 the United States started enforcing a new import rule, which requires fisheries exporting seafood to the United States to protect marine mammals at standards comparable to those required for U.S. fisheries. This rule aims to leverage American market power to reduce marine mammal bycatch worldwide. It also aims to level the playing field for U.S. fishermen, who currently face monitoring costs and fishing restrictions to reduce marine mammal bycatch – unlike some of their foreign competitors.
Are monocultures the great evil the Michael Pollan and other say that are? What are the real problems with monocultures and what can be done about them?
Alison Van Eenennaam explains why the FDA’s proposed regulations on biotech breeding make no sense.
• The aquaculture industry is growing faster than the human population, at about eight percent each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
• About 20 percent of the world’s fish goes to aquaculture, depleting wild-caught forage fish such as anchovies and krill to provide essential oils and protein for the development and growth of these cultivated foods.
• The first team to sell 100,000 metric tons of fish-free feed or, if that threshold isn’t reached, that sells the most feed by the end of the contest, on September 15, 2017, will be named the winner of the F3 challenge.
The contribution of animal-source foods to global warming cannot be ignored. But encouraging everyone to become vegetarian or even vegan isn’t the silver bullet solution envisioned by some. The direction we need to move in is different in the developed world than it is in the developing world.
If farmers are to mitigate methane emissions, they need to know where and under what conditions the emissions occur. And they need management options that have been proven to make a difference.
Environmental Defense Fund, thanks to a generous grant, is helping to quantify methane emissions from different management approaches. This work builds on EDF’s earlier efforts to develop good estimates of methane released through the energy sector.
More than a century after their discovery, we still don’t really know what blood types are for. Do they really matter? Carl Zimmer investigates.
Researchers at the University of Washington have bred a grass capable of bioremediating munitions sites by incorporating genes to metabolize RDX – a toxic compound found in munitions sites;- into Switchgrass and Creeping Bentgrass, plants viewed favorably by both graziers and wildlife managers.
Jayson Lusk has researched and written extensively on the impact of the Farm Bill and agricultural subsidies. Jayson joined the FAFDL community last fall for a Q&A on ag economics.