Who can stomach the great environmental costs of growing cotton? It has destroyed seas and bankrupted many farmers . It is now down to manufacturing brand names to support their growers in ways they have not managed before. In the modern tradition, fair trading has reached the clothing industry.
The impact of any agricultural activity on our carbon emissions is small compared to heavy industry. The attempts that have already been made, up to 2012, are admirable and will reward farmer and community alike with many environmental and even some energy benefits - and of course the porkers.
How does our skeleton fit us? Is it designed for the activity and sports that we love so much, because of a past of long-distance running and hunting and gathering. Is it more suited to the couch potato, who rarely needs his or her joints to mobilise their frame? The answer lies in agriculture apparently, needing hard work, but from a more gracile form than that of our relatives such as the Neanderthals. The great apes here have heavy frames apart from the 2 extremes, the leaping gibbon and the agricultural human!
Any obsessions we have with our own cats, birds, dogs, pigs, horses or whatever stems from long-established traits in ourselves, but the elucidation of how the animal species were adapted is just as intriguing. Here is a great story on how the horse became what it is today - a simple hobby with negative aspects to its breeding and shapes to match human fancy. But what a story from history of deals, war-horses, ancient chariot uses and the complete history of recent agriculture and transport - and thats just a start!
The conference we mentioned last week has produced very hopeful 'green shoots' of hope for financial, agricultural and hydrological solutions to the problems facing the peoples around the Aral Sea. The environmental catastrophe of toxic dust, total loss of species and livelihoods and currently high levels of cancers and TB have finally stirred up increased international cooperation from a multitude of partners and donors such as Asian and Islamic banks. First, we have some heartening eco-news..
The modern Eurasian ancestors roamed across Siberia according to a new study, but another paper revealed DNA-enhancing technology using part of prehistoric skulls. We now know roughly when our genes adapted to farming, less sunlight and many other technological advances we made in the past.
Green grow the rushes, oh, and the worlds crops, despite all the bad weather that is thrown at them. All because of careful and progressive family farmers.
The Indonesian forest, especially on 'easier' islands is disappearing fast and there seems little we can do to stop the Amazon once again disappearing as fast as it ever did, under the chainsaws and giant equipment of loggers. Murder is being used as a weapon, activists are threatened and armed men rule. We cant rely on tribal peoples to stop potentially dangerous people from robbing them of their inheritance, but we can take joint responsibility by stopping any trade in agricultural products. Lets plough all our effort into prevention. The need is to stop these greedy people rather than compensate for their destruction.
How did the peach become selected from the typical forest tree. Was it developed like many fruits as a recent addition to food habits, or did it become domesticated early, like the goat, the dog and the pig, to provide a rich varied diet for early agriculturalists?
Throughout Eurasia, we have several developments in regulations that may protect your health. Particulate matter of both PM2.5 and PM10 sizes is being recognised as an enormous health risk, almost parallel to the former risks taken by farmers, mine and other workers with pneumonocosis.
Can global warming create more dangerous water problems than we had predicted? It seems now that shallow lakes are in great danger of contamination if we feed them agricultural fertilizers. Chinese, African and now American water supplies are regularly affected and made unusable with Microcystis toxins.
We have always used aids to help our farming, security or surveillance. Now, as more uses appear for intelligent robotics, will we sit back and lose our fantastic disappearing skills completely, or can we maintain some of the humanity that existed throughout our long history of creativity?
The need for a pesticide for farmers and others that excludes pollinators and other useful insects from its action is desperate. We prefer not to kill any non-pest. But the loss of potentially all our bees is a risk that only chemical companies have been willing to take.
Would you prefer your food local and with fair prices, or supermarket-displayed from sources near and far? We know farmers get a raw deal from the food industry, and French and British farms are going under regularly, as bankruptcy grows. Here is a solution that works in many countries. Is it for you?
Luc Gnacadja has presented us with a striking and memorable picture of land as we know it, have known and will know it. Agencies and government can argue, but the future is more important than they are. Heeding good advice is the key to slowing this precipitous collapse of our forest areas, soils and agriculture.
How can we protect our coastal, oceanic and even little seas. As we don't often travel on water nowadays, we need to figure just how 'successful' our various pollutions, fish consumptions and farming and of course the limited conservation efforts have been.
Were the ancient Taiwanese or the forest tribes of Borneo responsible for early agricultural practice. Now we can see a clearer picture, it seems likely that both introduced many technologies that improved the lives of Asians, and many other unknown peoples also produced just as many ideas and improvements on the Early Holocene life-style.
The relentless mantra of bad-news for the world's poorest farmers may be lifting: a simple organic technique for growing rice is breaking records, and raising hopes, for India's struggling small farmers. The so-called SRI technique is also boosting yields for other crops too but the good news story hasn't yet won over all the critics.
When the wolf was killed off in many countries, the farmers thought that was good for their self-contained environment. When we lose such top predators from the food web, there are some obvious responses and ten there are the less obvious.
Women are the backbone of rural society and the International Day of Rural Women recognises the contribution they make to the enhancement of agricultural and rural development, the improvement of of food security and the eradication of rural poverty.
The impact of climate change on food security. Too much CO2 and the need for more food due to an increasing population. Plants are the obvious answer.
Ecologists call for remaining biodiversity protection. 'Water purity, food production and air quality' are often taken for granted but do not simply 'come for free.'
Do farming and ecology mix? The immediate answer is no! Despite many farmers' allegiance to conservation, ultimately the agricultural business world rules. A new study provides an insight into the issue of farming and ecological politics.
The competitive biofuel supply chain. A new study on how to maximise the biofuel supply chain has for the first time taken into account the selfishness of farmers.
The black soils or 'tera preta' of the Amazon forests were created by burning and composting, in an Pre-Columbian farming style that is still much admired. A study has looked at how these ancient farming techniques may be used to help reduce deforestation.
Eco-friendly dairy farmer Uriah Godsell is set to reap up to £8,000 a year in energy bill savings after installing a wind turbine from Ploughcroft Renewables.
House bill 1837 passed the House recently. Proponents, mainly farmers, say it will ensure consistent water deliveries to farmers. Opponents say it will undo decades of effort to restore the San Joaquin Delta and undermine state law, and it appears to be a water grab.
Honeybee colony collapse disorder threatens food security worldwide, and scientists may be one step closer to understanding its causes.
Reductions in the use of nitrates in agriculture can take decades to take effect in rivers and groundwater, a UK study suggests.
Record drought in Mexico has left 2.5m people without water and, in some cases, food. Agricultural output is down nearly 30% which, according to a Princeton study, may result in a 6% increase in emigration. But the US doesn't seem to be in a position to cope with this influx.
Archaeologists taking part in the world's biggest virtual excavation have found evidence of large pits at Stonehenge Cursus that may have been used by agricultural workers for sun worship at summer solstice.
With the population shooting up, the climate changing and agriculture a mess which loses up to a third of its food production the time to act on food security has come argues a powerful panel of major international scientists.
Nature has published a daring plan to double food production in order to feed the projected nine billion mouths we will have in 2050. By using only satellite images and crop records, the eminent researchers from Canada, the US, Sweden, and Germany have been able to predict less environmental impact with double production. With one billion chronically malnourished humans at the moment, perhaps we can make an immediate start.
The Tasmanian Devil, an animal with a ferocious reputation is fighting for its life against an infectious cancer that is now beyond culling control according to a new study. While culling of diseased livestock is a relatively common agricultural practice, it remains controversial where wild animals are concerned.
A lovely lady called Robin Gammon backs Hilary Clinton's farming focus on 'heartier crops' this Autumn by pushing the direct-sell aspect of markets. She makes several recommendations listed in this article.
A report published by the Challenge Program on Water and Food suggests that world water issues can be dealt with through better water management. The director of CPWF, Alain Vidal, argues that while water scarcity can be an issue for food production in some areas, generally water management is the real problem.
A proposed ethanol-production facility in Mozambique will reduce deforestation, improve local farmer's sustainability, and help reduce air pollution. The plan calls for construction of an integrated food-energy business that will replace charcoal-burning fireplaces with ethanol-burning stoves.
The world's dry lands are vanishing from agricultural production at an ever increasing rate just as the burgeoning population means massive increases in the food supply will be needed. The UN is meeting to try and find new, scientific approaches to land management and climate change.
Drought-stricken Texas is looking to manage water use at hydrofracking operations, but current law is flawed: operators using wells for hydrofracking are exempt from water use reporting requirements. Water utilities and regulators have put restrictions on residential, commercial, and agricultural water use, and now they are turning to fracking.
Mix together one Italian fashion designer and one Scottish organic farmer and you end up with Right as Rain - an unusual eco-fashion project where nature grows the shirts.
A new study finds that crop tillage could play a significant role in measuring greenhouse gas emissions. A team from the USDA-ARS in partnership with the University of Minnesota has found that the tillage of crops can affect levels of greenhouse gas emissions over a specified area of land.
A paper out in Science suggests that both conservation and farming could benefit by living separately - while still being good neighbors. Sharing the same land in a more mixed landscape, by contrast, appears to leave wildlife and food harvests worse off in the long run, the team from the University of Cambridge and the RSPB conclude.
The Common Agricultural Policy needs reform if declines in farmland bird species are to be halted says the RSPB. The Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme surveyed 145 common European bird species in 25 countries between 1980 and 2009 and farmland birds were the most at risk species with their numbers at an all time low.
Farming and protecting ecosystems go hand-in-hand, say researchers. Agroecosystems combine the two goals for a sustainable future. Can farmers double their production while protecting ecosystems? Absolutely, say researchers from the International Water Management Institute and the United Nations Environmental Programme.
Researchers have linked declining wild salmon populations with infestations of parasitic sea lice emanating from intensive salmon aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago in Canada. After a number of contradictory reports, scientists have correlated sea lice outbreaks with the depletion of wild salmon populations of pink and coho salmon.
If we want agriculture to be more eco-friendly, we have to encourage and reward the conservation practices that many farmers are already implementing on their own. The Farmer's Share research project was commissioned by KAP, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, and Wild Rose Agricultural Producers of Alberta.
One man's journey from market researcher to organic farmer. The Fieldpower Organics, created by Paul Sousek concentrates on zero-carbon farming practices. He decided to implement his own style of organic farming with near-zero use of fossil fuels, powered as much as possible by renewable energy, using local inputs and selling produce locally, to try to create an example of a self-sufficient and resilient food supply.
Farmers expected to benefit from Green Energy revolution in Scotland. Wind Turbines can, for example be installed on agricultural or grazing land and provide an extra income-stream, yet only marginally reduce the area used for food growing. Similarly production of biofuels from agricultural waste maximises the return farmers can make on their investments.
A new patent developed by a scientist in Israel allows for fish farms to minimize or even illiminate water pollution and fish contamination. According to a report by the UN Fish and Agriculture Organization, aquaculture (artificially grown seafood) provides over 47% of total world supply of seafood.
Windbreaks have several agricultural benefits, but because trees grown in these rigid lines behave differently it's been hard to measure their impact on climate change, until now. American farmers already use windbreaks. They take up a small amount of land, help to protect both crops and livestock from a battering and keep a check on soil erosion too.
Researchers from Sweden say that damage from ozone is likely to badly affect European forests and agriculture by the end of this century, reducing yields. Ozone is very important to life on Earth as any green veterans will remember. In the higher atmosphere - the ozone layer helps keep out harmful ultraviolet solar radiation.
The Crop Society of America warns that action must be taken quickly to help agriculture adapt to changing climate - both by finding new crops and by changing the ways we farm. According to the CSSA, drought will affect production from more than half of the planet's arable land within the next half-century and there is an urgent need to develop crop species and agricultural systems which can make the best use of scarce water.
Proposals to bring in restrictions on the hunting of young deer in New York State meets with stiff opposition. There are around a million white tailed deer in New York state. Managing thier numbers through hunting is seen as a viable way to keep numbers down. Too large a population and they cause problems for farmers and foresters, damaging a local ecosystem.
Work by a team of researchers has suggested that increasing levels of urban agriculture are having a beneficial effect on the environment by reducing vehicle emissions and reducing landfill waste. Worldwatch says that 800 million people worldwide are engaged in urban agriculture, producing 15-20 per cent of the world's food.
Wheat yield down 15% thanks to abnormally dry spring. The National Farmer's Union says it expects the UK's wheat harvest to drop by at least 15% this year, blaming drought conditions in the early part of 2011.
Offering eco-friendly accommodation in the heart of historic Sussex, England. Old Chapel Forge eco-friendly bed and breakfast uses low energy lighting, gray water recycling, solar water heaters and organically grown produce that is provided by local farmers.
Thunderstorm predictions during the Sahel monsoon season, in Africa, are likely to be improved by work published in Nature Geoscience today. By using incredibly detailed satellite images, scientists have discovered that soil moisture levels can be a big factor in some of the crop-nourishing storms breaking out at that time of year.
A major agricultural conference due to take place in the UK next week will focus attention on farmland crops which can be used to generate electricity. One of the biggest areas of interest will be the growth of energy crops for biomass power stations.
A report from CGIAR sees success in halting deforestation as being intimately linked to the yoking of agricultural and forestry policies together. In assessing the 20 countries party to the REDD+ scheme, to pay nations for protecting their forests, too many countries have avoided making that basic, but vital connection.
Social factors influence local farmers' willingness to accept sustainable technologies, a Stanford study shows. Local farmers may only accept sustainable and more cost-efficient methods if trusted resources promote the new methods.
Electricity can be generated by harnessing the wasted effort of industrial machines reducing emissions and saving money say a Finnish team. The team at Aalto University have used the technique on construction and mining machines, agricultural machines and material handling machines, capturing lost energy to use instead of fuel.
A study has found that the prevalence of fertiliser-derived nitrogen as a pollution source in the Caribbean is declining. This is attributed to the adoption of more environmentally sensitive agricultural practices in recent years which have changed fertiliser application practices.
An important research project that could ultimately see the defeat of the trypanosome parasite - the scourge of Africa's cattle herds - comes out today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With millions of African farmers reliant on healthy cattle for food, as milk-producers and for the plowing of fields, the discovery of the specific genes responsible for resistance to the cattle-form of 'sleeping sickness' is being seen as a major breakthrough.
Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge is one of Nicaragua's favorite eco-tourism destinations. Morgan's Rock is also a leader in the green movement, and has initiated a number of eco-friendly projects, including tree farming, supporting a number of regional conservation and reforestation efforts.
Obama administration hopes to clarify 'vague'' Clean Water Act closing the door on majority of water pollution. In a move delighting environment groups, but drawing concern from agricultural lobbies, the new definition of the 1970s act could the increase the government's abilioty to protect streams, wetlands and other sensitge waterways from pollution.
Harvests of corn and wheat are already wilting under the rising temperatures seen since 1980, says a team from Stanford University. They publish their study results - which looks at what crop yields would have have been without climate change - today in Science Express. In contrast, rice and soya crops, and US farmers in general, are so far weathering the global warming storm - but that may be about to change.
An Interview with Dr Robert Biel about sustainable agriculture. Dr Robert Biel is an author and academic, who works for University College London and has written about sustainable agriculture. More than that, he practices what he calls ''experimental agriculture'' in his own allotment and with his students.
Innovations in gardening have evolved over the past few years and gardening is permeating every corner of our lives. Roll-out pre-seeded matts that only require water and sunlight are now popular, and urban projects like Window Farms in New York that promote hydroponic methods in offices and apartments are gaining notoriety.
A new World Bank report has found that drainage and degradation of coastal wetlands leads to decreased carbon sequestration and increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If coastal wetlands are drained, for example to convert the land for agricultural use, they emit large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere
The FAO has warned of the ''potentially catastrophic'' future impact on food production in the developing world by 'slow-onset' climate change. But doour governments presently take too much of a short-term approach to such changes? Andhow can we prepare for them to make developing world food production more resilient whilst managing the trade-offs?
Agricultural news; energy-efficient greenhouse helps boost year-round crop yield in China. an academic research team based at the China Agricultural University (College of Agronomy and Biotechnology) has been making international headlines. The researchers have been monitoring the use of solar-powered greenhouse facilities as an innovative means of achieving agricultural targets
With just 125 left on one island, the fight to save the Tuamotu Kingfisher is an uphill struggle for scientists despite the backing of local farmers. With bright blue feathers, an orange head a green black the Tuamotu Kingfisher is quite an eye-catcher, but with just 125 of them left on one last Pacific island seeing one was going to be a thing of the past without intervention.
Using molasses to encourage beneficial microbes could help to replace a chemical which damages the ozone layer. The USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are seeing if a system that uses the treacle to stimulate beneficial bacteria in the soil and so does away with the need for Methyl Bromide.
A report on the healing potential of Natural Sequence Farming, in repairing wounded carbon and water cycles, has been published in the latest International Journal of Water. Not only can NSF help restore fertility in a sustainable way for the Australian landscape studied - by building up carbon stores in the soil, CO2 is drawn from the atmosphere, so blunting emissions-driven climate change.
Large scale agricultural production is not the answer to food shortages and climate change says a UN report which backs smaller producers and green farming methods. Environmentalists everywhere will welcome the news that the United Nations is backing more ecological agriculture; not just for its green benefits but in order to produce an estimated doubling of yields in areas affected by food shortages. Filed in environmental issues: food/agriculture/climate.
A constant feature in news headlines is the 'rising cost of living' which encompasses anything from the cost of running a car to the cost of housing and also importantly, the cost of vital essentials such as food. In particular, recent natural occurrences such as draughts and floods have further heightened the price of food. Filed in environmental issues: agriculture/climate change/politics.
A new report shows multiple threats to the world's bee colonies, leading to worries about global food security. Scientists are warning that we need to rethink the way in which humans manage the planet if we are to feed a growing world population. Bees and other pollinators are hugely important in global food production and integral to healthy ecosystems. Filed under environmental issues: ecosystems/nature.
Evidence of ancient mega-drought may help to predict future climatory developments. international Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory are to be believed, our hunter-gatherer ancestors were experiencing something of an ecological disaster during this time - a large-scale environmental 'Mega-drought'- which left animal and human lifeforms fighting for survival in an unforgiving climate amidst an agriculturally-redundant landscape.
Monocultures might be the most efficient way to grow but they're also great for the nasties that destroy crops a new report finds. Now scientists have come up with a very good reason for farmers to grow a wider diversity and variety of crops to protect themselves from the changes likely to result from climate change.
With more than 600,000 seeds in cold storage the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is three years old, is a vital store of genetic diversity. The third anniversary of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) saw yet more seeds arriving at the Arctic stronghold of biodiversity while an important Egyptian collection was looted during the recent revolution and farmers in Australia report almost impossible conditions for agriculture.
The Japanese government has announced that they have decided to bring this year's Antarctic Ocean whaling season to an early end. A statement by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries they said their whaling fleet will be returning home shortly as a result of the ongoing harassment that they have been receiving from the anti-whaling activists in the Antarctic Ocean, naming the vessels run by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
By drilling a field in foot wide strips, nine inches deep, and planting maize and adding nitrate fertiliser at the same time, this increases yields and reduces the amount of nitrate escaping into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide. Although carbon dioxide (CO2) is widely held to be the major contributor to global warming, scientists believe that the contribution of nitrous oxide (N2O) is about 300 times more than CO2.
Asking consumers to pay the 'true climate cost' of meat and other dairy products could lead to a severe reduction in carbon emissions, Swedish scientists have argued. While, for the most part, these 'carbon taxes' are levied on businesses operating in the manufacturing and transportation sectors, new research suggests that they could be equally effective, if not more so, if targeted towards the agriculture and food industries.
Man has been influencing Earth's climate for at least 8,000 years say Swiss researchers. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire; the Black Death, and the colonisation of the Americas all had a significant impact on the environment due to changes in forestation. Early man began by clearing woody areas to improve hunting and gathering opportunities. Next the first farmers had a larger impact by clearing forest for early slash and burn agriculture.
A report recently published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers outlines how the UN's Millennium Development Goals can save the world - if they're implemented. By 2050, our cities will be so overcrowded that food production will have to double, as will our energy infrastructure; demand for water, meanwhile, is expected to rise by 30% by 2030. That's according to a report recently published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) entitled Population: One Planet, Too Many People?
Viruses affecting honey bees can cross over from other species of native pollinator and vice versa. The decline in pollinator populations during the past two decades has caused major concern in the agricultural and scientific community. Pollinators of all types are vital to agriculture and are responsible for the production of crops worth US$225 billion worldwide. In the United States alone honey bees account for an added market crop exceeding US$15 million.
Hunger can be tackled by more targeted aid and by investing in innovative projects. Four out of ten kilos of food produced worldwide is wasted before being consumed, a new report by the Worldwatch Institute recently revealed. In its State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, the non-profit says that African farmers, who make up 80% of the continent's population, need to be supported by more targeted and substantial aid.
Australian Government begins review of sustainable forestry. The Australian Government has stepped up its efforts to ensure the sustainability of the country's forest plantations. Officials at The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) have commissioned a review of the codes governing plantation farming across the country.
In Africa, the effects of climate change are already being felt, primarily in the form of reduced rainfall and desertification. These effects could substantially alter farming, leading to food shortages. To mitigate such impacts of global warming, information and communication technologies (ICTs) may have an important role to play.
The Fayette Power Project in Texas a coal-fired power plant for nearly 30 years has operated mostly without equipment designed to decrease emissions of sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain has come under flak. Farmers are saying that the plants sulfur dioxide emissions harmed their orchards.
Farmers are taking money from energy companies to have solar panels in their fields. The latest money making venture is also environmental friendly. Farmers are taking money from private energy companies to have solar panels put up in their fields, aided by grants and with future income from the electricity produced.
Following the announcement of a $4million project to combat food insecurity in South Asia, this article looks at some of the aims of the project and the background to food insecurity in the region.
Charcoal mixed with fertiliser can enhance soil and hold climate changing carbon safely in the ground: Spanish conquistador Francisco del Orellana peered through the Amazon undergrowth. He saw thriving settlements and fertile agriculture along the river. This was 1542. Later visits by other explorers found only jungle and poor soils which could not support agriculture.
A joint initiative by cotton growers, the USDA and the University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has used a combination of genetically engineered crops and the deliberate release of sterile pink bollworm to almost completely eradicate this invasive pest from the state's cotton crop and allowed Arizona's cotton growers to reduce their use of pesticides.