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Soil fungal distribution and functionality as affected by grazing and vegetation components of integrated crop–livestock agroecosystems

Soil fungal distribution and functionality as affected by grazing and vegetation components of integrated crop–livestock agroecosystems | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it
Soil fungal distribution and functionality as affected by grazing and vegetation components of integrated crop–livestock agroecosystems - Science Alerts Social Network (Soil fungal distribution & function in integrated crop & livestock agroecosystems...
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Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae

Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it

Recent declines in honey bee populations and increasing demand for insect-pollinated crops raise concerns about pollinator shortages. Pesticide exposure and pathogens may interact to have strong negative effects on managed honey bee colonies. Such findings are of great concern given the large numbers and high levels of pesticides found in honey bee colonies. Thus it is crucial to determine how field-relevant combinations and loads of pesticides affect bee health. We collected pollen from bee hives in seven major crops to determine 1) what types of pesticides bees are exposed to when rented for pollination of various crops and 2) how field-relevant pesticide blends affect bees’ susceptibility to the gut parasite Nosema ceranae. Our samples represent pollen collected by foragers for use by the colony, and do not necessarily indicate foragers’ roles as pollinators. In blueberry, cranberry, cucumber, pumpkin and watermelon bees collected pollen almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers during our sampling. Thus more attention must be paid to how honey bees are exposed to pesticides outside of the field in which they are placed. We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to.

 

Pettis JS, Lichtenberg EM, Andree M, Stitzinger J, Rose R, et al. (2013) Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae. PLoS ONE 8(7): e70182. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070182


Via Complexity Digest
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Informatie

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Large-scale edible insect farming needed to ensure future global food supply

Large-scale edible insect farming needed to ensure future global food supply | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it

The large-scale production of edible insects is unavoidable in order to continue feeding the ever-increasing global population and providing them with enough animal protein. Insect farming can be compared with mini livestock farming. It is environmentally friendly, does not require much land and produces high-quality nutrients. Furthermore, as a new sector of the food industry, it will provide a livelihood for large groups of people. This is the basic message contained in the book Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security, written by researchers at Wageningen University and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO). The book will be launched in Rome the 13th of May.

 

At least two billion people currently consume insects on a regular basis. More than 1,900 edible insect species have been identified, including beetles (31 percent), caterpillars (18 percent) and bees, wasps and ants (14 percent).

 

Research has shown that insects are highly nutritious, healthy and full of proteins, and many species contain as many unsaturated fatty acids (such as omega 3 and 6) as fish. The environmental benefits of insect farming are manifold: insects are much more efficient at converting feed into edible body weight than chickens, pigs or cattle. Furthermore, they emit 50 times fewer emissions than traditional livestock and ten times less amonia. In addition, there is less risk of animal diseases being transmitted to humans.

 

Whether or not we eat insects ('entomophagy') is largely dictated by culture and religion. It is part of the staple diet in many regions. Here in the West, we tend to brand such behaviour as 'disgusting' and 'primitive'. The authors of the book think that a lot of effort will have to go into devising communication strategies to promote the consumption of insects.

 

Non-Western consumers will have to reinstate insects as a useful source of nutrition rather than copying Western eating habits. New processing methods must be developed to overcome the resistance on the part of Western consumers. These may include grinding the insects or extracting their proteins so that insects cannot be recognised as such anymore.

 

The scientists concerned envisage a lot of hard work before large-scale insect farming becomes a reality. There will be numerous challenges regarding industrial automated farming methods, processing and preserving techniques, conducive regulations and legislation, and gastronomy.

 

Despite the existing wealth of knowledge on the advantages of producing and eating insects, the authors want to see prompt, simultaneous answers to four serious questions. More documentation about the nutritional value of insects is needed in order to promote them as a healthy alternative. The effects on the environment must be clarified in order to compare this form of farming with conventional livestock production. There needs to be more certainty about the social-economic benefits of insect farming, particularly with regard to food security in the poorest sections of the population. And finally, a clear and comprehensive system of international regulations must be devised to smooth the path for investments to encourage this new branch of the industry and enable international trade in the sector to develop to its full potential.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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This would be very helpful for providing a source of sustainable livelihood for landless farmers.

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What is Sustainable Agriculture?

What is Sustainable Agriculture? | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it

Agriculture has changed dramatically, especially since the end of World War II. Food and fiber productivity soared due to new technologies, mechanization, increased chemical use, specialization and government policies that favored maximizing production. These changes allowed fewer farmers with reduced labor demands to produce the majority of the food and fiber in the U.S.

Although these changes have had many positive effects and reduced many risks in farming, there have also been significant costs.Prominent among these are topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination, the decline of family farms, continued neglect of the living and working conditions for farm laborers, increasing costs of production, and the disintegration of economic and social conditions in rural communities.

A growing movement has emerged during the past two decades to question the role of the agricultural establishment in promoting practices that contribute to these social problems. Today this movement for sustainable agriculture is garnering increasing support and acceptance within mainstream agriculture. Not only does sustainable agriculture address many environmental and social concerns, but it offers innovative and economically viable opportunities for growers, laborers, consumers, policymakers and many others in the entire food system.

Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Soil management. A common philosophy among sustainable agriculture practitioners is that a “healthy” soil is a key component of sustainability; that is, a healthy soil will produce healthy crop plants that have optimum vigor and are less susceptible to pests. While many crops have key pests that attack even the healthiest of plants, proper soil, water and nutrient management can help prevent some pest problems brought on by crop stress or nutrient imbalance. Furthermore, crop management systems that impair soil quality often result in greater inputs of water, nutrients, pesticides, and/or energy for tillage to maintain yields.

In sustainable systems, the soil is viewed as a fragile and living medium that must be protected and nurtured to ensure its long-term productivity and stability. Methods to protect and enhance the productivity of the soil include using cover crops, compost and/or manures, reducing tillage, No -Till farming is key.

Efficient use of inputs. Many inputs and practices used by conventional farmers are also used in sustainable agriculture. Sustainable farmers, however, maximize reliance on natural, renewable, and on-farm inputs. Equally important are the environmental, social, and economic impacts of a particular strategy. Converting to sustainable practices does not mean simple input substitution. Frequently, it substitutes enhanced management and scientific knowledge for conventional inputs, especially chemical inputs that harm the environment on farms and in rural communities. The goal is to develop efficient, biological systems which do not need high levels of material inputs.

Water. When the production of food and fiber degrades the natural resource base, the ability of future generations to produce and flourish decreases. The decline of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean region, Pre-Columbian southwest U.S. and Central America is believed to have been strongly influenced by natural resource degradation from non-sustainable farming and forestry practices. Water is the principal resource that has helped agriculture and society to prosper, and it has been a major limiting factor when mismanaged.

Air. Many agricultural activities affect air quality. These include smoke from agricultural burning; dust from tillage, traffic and harvest; pesticide drift from spraying; and nitrous oxide emissions from the use of nitrogen fertilizer. Options to improve air quality include incorporating crop residue into the soil, using NO tillage systems, and planting wind breaks, cover crops or strips of native perennial grasses to reduce dust.

Soil. Soil erosion continues to be a serious threat to our continued ability to produce adequate food. Numerous practices have been developed to keep soil in place, which include reducing or eliminating tillage, managing irrigation to reduce runoff, and keeping the soil covered with plants or mulch. Enhancement of soil quality is discussed in the next section.


Via Giri Kumar
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This piece is enlightening.

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Bacteria discovery could revolutionize crop science

Bacteria discovery could revolutionize crop science | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it
A type of bacteria has been developed into a technology that allows any crop to take nitrogen directly from the air, eliminating the need for costly and environ

Via Maria Nunzia @Varvera
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This discovery, once perfected, would lead to substantial revolution in agricultural productivity even in areas where nitrogen deficiancy is endemic.

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Soil fungal distribution and functionality as affected by grazing and vegetation components of integrated crop–livestock agroecosystems

Soil fungal distribution and functionality as affected by grazing and vegetation components of integrated crop–livestock agroecosystems | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it
Soil fungal distribution and functionality as affected by grazing and vegetation components of integrated crop–livestock agroecosystems - Science Alerts Social Network (Soil fungal distribution & function in integrated crop & livestock agroecosystems...
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Amazing!

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APEC targets greater use of biotechnologies to enhance food security - Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (2013)

APEC targets greater use of biotechnologies to enhance food security - Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (2013) | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it

APEC member economies are seeking to widen the availability of agricultural biotechnologies to help ensure adequate food supplies and boost the livelihoods of farmers. Agricultural and biotechnology experts from around the Pacific Rim laid the groundwork for increased regulatory and technical collaboration in support of these objectives during a recent joint meeting...

 

“We are focused on improving innovation within the agricultural sector as a path towards greater food security,” Dr Subagyono explained. “This includes cross-cutting support for agricultural biotechnologies to enhance crop yields and reduce losses due to weather, pests or post-harvest transport and handling.” Greater innovation within the sector is needed to mitigate the effects of climate change on biodiversity and food production, he added.

The progress of this effort has important implications for business and socio-economic development.

 

Participants agreed that biotechnologies can boost production for small, rural farmers and thus play a role in alleviating poverty. Biotechnologies also have the capacity to lessen the impact of agriculture on the environment by limiting the need for pesticides and irrigation, they said. But their increased development and use require a complementary policy environment.

 

“When economies deploy varying rules and regulations for agricultural development and management, it becomes more difficult for new ideas and innovations to flow across borders,” said Dr Karden Mulya, representing Chair of the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnologies. “APEC economies are intent on enhancing policy harmonization within the sector... Such harmonization is needed to lower barriers that impact agricultural trade and investment, and foster the co-development and transfer of biotechnology that can benefit small-scale farmers.” 

 

Measures that promote increased transparency and understanding of agricultural sector regulation are key agenda focuses. Providing governing bodies with knowledge and tools that support the implementation of best practices, identified through the sharing of experiences in biotechnologies and biogenetic resource management, is another area of emphasis...

 

“Science and technology are of great importance in ensuring food security,” Dr Tang concluded. “As biotechnologies become a more integral component of agricultural production and public confidence grows as their value becomes more apparent, there is an opportunity to take significant steps forward in addressing the region’s long-term agricultural demands.” 


Via Alexander J. Stein
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Although biotechnology in the form of genetically modified food crops have been challenged as being unconventional by some proponents, agricultural biotechnology targeted at producing high yielding varieties of crops and livestock would be beneficial. Such benefits from these improved varieties would even be more when viewed from the point of view that such varieties would lead to little or no littage and use of pesticides,minimal weeding and inorganic fertilizer requirements, less wastes, higher productivity, lower post-harvest losses and higher returns on investment.

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NORWAY: The complex proteins of fish feed

NORWAY: The complex proteins of fish feed | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it

Fishmeal is a complex protein source that is commonly used in fish feed. A new article published in Animal Feed Science and Technology shows how fishmeal physical and chemical properties influence both the production of fish feed and the physical feed quality. High physical feed quality is one of the salmon farmers’ most important criteria. This new knowledge can help the feed producers to better control their production process and to improve the quality of the feed.

 

Fishmeal is purchased based on a limited number of specifications. Nofima has now demonstrated that these specifications are inadequate in order to predict the physical quality of the fish feed. This new knowledge may also be applied to plant and other animal-based feed raw materials.

 

Extrusion technology and bread baking

 

Salmon feed is currently produced by extrusion technology – a rapid kneading and cooking process at high temperature, which may be compared with preparing dough in your kitchen to bake bread. This process results in a series of physical and chemical changes in the feed raw materials. The quality of the fish feed may be controlled and improved by adding starch and other binding agents, but the proteins in the fishmeal will also contribute to the physical quality of the feed.

 

Major stress on feed

 

The physical quality of fish feed has become more important in recent years because the feeding system blows the feed through long pipes from storage bins to the fish cages. This exposes the feed to mechanical stress and may lead to crushing. Crushing of the feed pellets is a problem since the fish cannot eat small particles or dust, and the dust clogs up the feeding system.

“During this project we have documented for the first time that variation in the physical and chemical properties of fishmeal influences both the extrusion process and the physical quality of the feed,” says Project Manager and Nofima Senior Scientist Tor Andreas Samuelsen.

 

The attached document (in Norwegian language only) provides a more detailed description of the various methods utilized in the trials, and how variation in the physical and chemical qualities of the fishmeal influences the fish feed.

 

Detailed description of the various methods utilized in the trials, and how variation in the physical and chemical properties of the fishmeal influences the fish feed can be found in: Samuelsen, T.A., Mjøs, S.A., Oterhals, Å., 2013.

 

Impact of variability in fishmeal physicochemical properties on the extrusion process, starch gelatinization and pellet durability and hardness. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 179, 77-84.

 

Nofima


Via Αλιεία alieia.info
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This is a process that is capable of boosting aquaculture.

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Ecoforestry in Papua New Guinea

Ecoforestry in Papua New Guinea | Mixed Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security | Scoop.it
The islands of Papua New Guinea are home to some of the most important – and most beautiful – tropical rainforests in the world. Does ecoforestry represent a viable option for the region’s forest communities and ecosystems?
Ibisime Etela's insight:

Papua New Guinea, certainly, has a lot of peculiarities in terms of both being rainforest zones with Rivers State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The ecoforestry approach promises to enable the locals maximize land use without undue interference with the natural ecosystem.

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