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How are seedless watermelons produced

How are seedless watermelons produced | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

 

How do you grow seedless watermelons?Ask your own question!Seedless watermelons cannot reproduce on their own, so plant breeders use genetic tricks to produce them. The first seedless watermelon was invented over fifty years ago.

Normally, watermelons are "diploid." This means they have two sets of 11 chromosomes, the structures that contain an organism's genetic material. They get one set of chromosomes from each parent, for a total of 22.

Producing a seedless watermelon involves three steps. First, a plant is treated with colchicine, a substance that allows chromosomes to duplicate, but prevents the copies from being distributed properly to dividing cells. As a result, a plant with four sets of chromosomes is created, a "tetraploid."

In the second step, a tetraploid plant is crossed with a diploid to produce offspring that are�.? That's right, triploid, with three sets. They get half the number of chromosomes from each parent.

Finally, the triploid seeds are grown into plants. Although they must be germinated under very careful conditions, once the seeds grow into small plantlets, they grow just like normal watermelon plants. They can produce flowers and the female flowers can produce fruit, the watermelons.

However, triploids cannot reproduce sexually. The reason is that the cell divisions that produce pollen and egg cells are very particular; they require precise alignment of chromosome pairs in the middle of the cell, an impossible task with an odd number of copies. Since the triploids have three sets, this crucial process gets mixed up and the eggs inside the watermelon are never formed. Without eggs, the seeds do not grow.

So far so good, except that pollen is still needed to trigger the female flowers to make the watermelons. Since triploid plants cannot produce pollen, farmers grow diploid "pollenizer" plants near the triploids. The diploids produce the necessary pollen, bees carry it to the female triploid flowers, and the seedless watermelons grow. Actually, a few seeds develop partially, so you can find some white, empty seed coats in the red flesh.

When plant breeders developed seedless watermelons, they also selected them for other traits such as sweetness, disease resistance, longer shelf life, and nutritional value.

The people of Knox City, Texas proclaim their city the "Seedless Watermelon Capitol of the World." Perhaps on your next summer vacation you can venture to Knox City for the 17th annual Seedless Watermelon Festival, where you can eat all the free watermelon you please. But don't expect to take part in a seed spittin' contest!

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Sanatana Pages: Organic farming and the centrality of the cow

Sanatana Pages: Organic farming and the centrality of the cow | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Subhash Palekar Raises Agriculture to Spiritual Levels

For over sixty years, Indian agriculture was in a slumber. Our lands were scandalized by an unknown thing called as synthetic fertlizer. This was done to help the farmer get a 'better' harvest.

As the farmer started using it, he immediately noticed that, his soil had become infertile and could no longer bear crops for the next season. He was advised to add more and more fertilizer to the soil to compensate for the nutrient loss. Soon he was faced with another threat. The plants that grew with fertilizer needed pesticides. Soon, he started using these pesticides, which are deadly poisons. He noticed that the pests had become resistant to these chemicals as time went by. He was puzzled.

Our farmer forgot the ancient lesson that the soil HAD LIFE. He forgot that there were natural laws that governed the soil which his ancestors had obeyed from time immemorial. By thus obeying the laws , they had taken bumper harvests and had kept the land well cared for and transferred the land intact for posterity.

Subhash Palekar

It was at this time that a great mind set out to work in this field. He himself was a graduate of Agricultural science from a 'modern university'. He set out to work in his field using the British devised ways of Fertlisers and Pesticides and became an utter failure. He also ruined his land.

Then he set out to research on how our ancestors did so well in Agriculture without any of these chemicals. He consulted the Vedas, and the ancient wisdom literature. The result is a revolutionary, path breaking method, which Sri Subhash calls as 'Zero Budget Natural Farming'. Sri Subhash tried his method in his own soil and replicated it in various other fields tasting success every time.

An inspired Sri Subhash set out to teach this method to his countrymen. He has so far conducted not less than 1000 workshops, all heavily attended, to spread this new way of life for farmers.

The fundamental concept in Sri Subhash's work is that
1. Soil does not need nutrients to be added.
2. The soil has micro organisms which GENERATE NUTRIENTS for the soil.
3. It is possible to revive a fertliser damaged soil back to the natural ways.
4. That the new method require no money to do Agriculture.

Fascinating, is it not ? Read on for some more.

Sri Subhash says the pivot of 'Zero Budget Natural Farming' is the desi cow. He says that the desi cow's Urine, Cow dung and Milk have all the qualities required to rejuvenate the soil. Just ONE desi cow, says Sri Subhash, is all that is required to maintain a 30 acre Farm. He laments that the Desi- Jersi hybrid cows are of no use in his scheme of things.

What a sad thing ? The desi (country) cow is now has such a dwindling population that we need to revive them on a war footing. I wondered why the hybrid Jersi cow is unfit. A publication of 'Govardan', a voluntary organisation for Cow protection, says that the high yield Jersi was produced by crossing a wild pig and an Australian cow breed !

Sri Subhash has some formulas to revive the soil. One is 'Jeevamrutam'. This is not a replacement for Fertlizer , he says. Jeevamrutam is only a catalyst for the soil to generate its nutrients. He says that the 'organic manure','earthworm manure' are fads and are another recipe for disaster.

Sri Subhash condemns the university taught concept of burning the leftover plants after harvest. He says that these are to be left over in the soil itself by turning them over into the soil. This process of 'Mulching' helps the soil prepare its own manure.

And what about pests ? Subhash maintains that a naturally grown plant fights pests. But the plants in transit in chemical ravaged field can be protected by simply prepared 'natural pesticides' which arwe usually buttermilk, pepper and such simple combinations.

The Government Sponsored Chemical Mafia

A govermental survey states that the fertliser subsidy alone was abot Rs 13,000.00 crores in the year 2000. Add to this the pesticide subsidy and the farmer's burden. A report says that the pesticide business in India is the fourth largest in the world! Imagine what would have happened if the money is spent on raising desi cows, strengthening ponds and lakes, and protecting the village fiorests !

There are some criminal agricultural scientists who sit and lord over every governmental commission on Agriculture. These are the very people who are in hand in glove with the synthetic mafia and have been the cause of so much decline in production. Sri Subhash has alleged that our country imports foodgrains of about 5 million tonnes every year. This fact is not known to many Indians. The governments cheats here also.

Recently, a central minister went on record stating that poor Indians are eating more and this is causing problems. It is no wonder with such people at the helm, our Agriculture remains without policy.

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Where the wild things are

Where the wild things are | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
The Vanvadi collective, a group of about 20 like-minded city folk, is helping nurture a large 65-acre tract by farming organically as well as regenerating the forest cover, which holds a sizeable number of uncultivated foods

 

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/where-the-wild-things-are/15463153

 

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Deploying microbes as a seed treatment for protection against soil-borne plant pathogens | Organic Farming Research Foundation

Deploying microbes as a seed treatment for protection against soil-borne plant pathogens | Organic Farming Research Foundation | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Deploying microbes as a seed treatment for protection against soil-borne plant pathogens Plant diseases, especially those caused by soil-borne seed infecting pathogens, pose a serious threat to the production of both greenhouse and field crops. Conventional farming operations often use fumigants and chemical seed treatments, which can be harmful to human health and the environment, for controlling seed and seedling pathogens. The use of many of these materials is strictly prohibited in organic agriculture, limiting the options for organic farmers for plant disease control. Organic amendments such as compost and vermicompost are used as alternatives to synthetic control methods due, in part, to their success in controlling plant pathogens. Previous studies have confirmed consistent disease suppression using solid and liquid forms of organic amendments and the working hypothesis is that microbes are closely associated with suppression. Furthermore, only a subset of microbes from the bulk material that colonize the seed coat are responsible for disease suppression. So if the specific subset of microbes associated with seed colonization and suppression can be deployed as a seed treatment, can we still achieve plant protection from soil-borne pathogens? In addition, can this seed treatment application be developed for organic production as an effective tool for disease management? The goal of this project is to establish a proof-of-concept that compost and vermicompost microbes can be applied to the surface of seeds before sowing to protect against soil-borne plant pathogens. Liquid extracts will be produced from solid materials, freeze-dried to a powder form, and applied to the seed coat. Treated seeds will first be evaluated for disease suppression under laboratory conditions, and then tested for use on certified organic land. The information generated from this project has the potential to introduce a novel seed-treatment application for controlling plant pathogens in organic production systems. 
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Invisible Gardener's curator insight, July 12, 8:12 AM

Excellent.   Try compost tea

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9 Habits of a Great Farmer - Organic Farming - Sustainable Agriculture - Growers Trust - Growers Trust

9 Habits of a Great Farmer - Organic Farming - Sustainable Agriculture - Growers Trust - Growers Trust | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Farming land is no easy task. For serious growers and farmers, doing so successfully requires time, money, and a ton of effort to ensure that the farm’s harvests and plentiful and growing. In reality, the majority of farmers depend on their crops to pay their bills and keep the farms sustainable and thriving. When one aspect of the harvest fails, it is up to the farmer to create a quick and effective solution to keep the farm operating the way it should be. Organic farming methods are calculated procedures that depend upon the natural biological processes to keep farms healthy. With a mix of modern technology, the right fertilizers, and traditional farming practices, maintaining a successful farm is a real possibility. It is important, however, to remember that farming practices quickly become habits.

The best farmers throughout the world make it a point to perfect their daily habits and turn them into a thriving agriculture business. The following are the top 9 habits of a great farmer:

Staying focused on revenues to ensure that cost management is stable. Stick to budgets and cover all costs of production.Remain disciplined and resolute in keeping the harvests thriving and asking for help when help is needed.Enjoy the work. A man who has fun while farming will never work a day in his life.Learn from your farming errors and make note to not make these mistakes again.Coordinate action plans for all types of “what-if” scenarios. This leaves little room for error when an unexpected storm approaches or a certain crop is producing at optimal rates.Look at your competition and compare how your harvests stack up. Using benchmarks is an excellent way to keep improving production.Be prideful and pay close attention to your reputation. People buy from the farms that they truly trust, keep that trust by building a solid foundation of good work.Sell locally. Not only does this reduce pollution, but it is an amazing way to get involved and enrich your community.Get on board with solar and wind energy now. Alternative energy is here to stay. Farms who utilize this now will be setting themselves up for big wins in the future.

Every farmer has their own unique style. Sustainable agriculture is founded by the habits that these farmers create for their farms. Make an honest effort to be the best farmer that you can be and always remember where you came from. The best farmers have the best habits. When it comes to life on the farm, make every day count.X

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Eric Larson's curator insight, July 20, 5:20 AM

Good ideas.

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What! Organic Agriculture Isn't Sustainable? - Kansas City infoZine

What! Organic Agriculture Isn't Sustainable? - Kansas City infoZine | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Dear EarthTalk: Do You Agree with the Recent Claim in the Wall Street Journal That Organic Agriculture Isn

 

 

http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/58971/

 

 

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Robotic milking | Farming Futures

Robotic milking | Farming Futures | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

http://www.farmingfutures.org.uk/blog/robotic-milking

 

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Kot Addu: The organic dream – The Express Tribune

Kot Addu: The organic dream – The Express Tribune | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
The reside­nts of Kot Addu reap an organi­c harves­t that is akin to export-qualit­y produc­e.

 

 

Fame and misfortune have swept across Kot Addu in equal measure. The city that is home to one of Pakistan’s most iconic folk singers, Pathaney Khan, and a victim of the 2010 floods that occurred after a breach in the Abbaswala Bund, is currently trying to get back on its feet through organic farming.

Located in the south of Punjab, at a distance of 89kms from Multan and 16kms from the mangled steel structure Taunsa Barrage, the city boasts strawberries that are as plump as their British counterparts. The strawberries are grown in the year-round hot and humid climate by a handful of generational farmers in Basti Sheikhan Wali who refrain from using chemical pesticides and use less water and slurry to ensure a healthy yield. Although the strawberries from their field are tart and green and nowhere near the ripe ones pictured in cookbooks, they are large in size and enticing when presented in neat earthen bowls.

This effective resource management is part of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) project focused on improving the livelihoods of fishermen communities of Central Indus Wetlands complex, a 700-kilometre stretch of land along the mighty Indus River. The project stretches from the Taunsa Barrage in southern Punjab to Sukkur Barrage in Sindh, involving fishermen who have traditionally been ignored by the provincial government and have no stake in development plans.

The project not only educates farmers about sustainability and the environmental impact of farming, but also teaches them ways to minimise the impact by adopting environment-friendly methods without compromising on the yield. According to Umer Waqas, the site coordinator of the project in Kot Addu, the strawberries were just an experiment that succeeded and they be will trying their luck with grapes next. “The most famous grapes in the market are touted as being from Iran or Afghanistan. We’re trying to grow grapes here through sustainable methods to try and give the exports stiff competition,” he says.

A nursery at Taunsa Barrage.

A flood marker near Abbaswala Bund.

Sanawan, a tehsil of Kot Addu, is already famous for its vegetables in the surrounding areas. The vegetables available in the market are fresh and plentiful due to the right mix of climactic patterns and fertile land. Farmers in the area are always on the lookout for sustainable alternatives to grow traditional water-hungry crops such as sugarcane. Even the cucumbers grown using water-efficient techniques are crisp and fresh. The fresh water often used to grow these vegetables is wasted, points out Waqas. And in case of used water, it is almost always contaminated with household or solid waste. “There is no water treatment plant in this area so people make do. Being so close to the river makes them believe that they will never run out of fresh water,” he says wryly. “But that is obviously a false assumption. That’s the mindset we are trying to change by persuading farmers and fishermen to use water wisely, whether for farming or fishing.”

There is no dearth of inspirational stories in Kot Addu. Right next to the Taunsa Wildlife Sanctuary Information Center, replete with posters, charts, activity wheels and informational signs chronicling local biodiversity, is a small roadside café serving freshly caught and freshly prepared fish in a variety of ways. Fish with rice pilaf, fish kebabs, fish kofta and spicy fried fish are the mouthwatering dishes on offer by Liaqat Hussain, who belongs to a fisherman community and is now involved in sustainable fishing. Overfishing after the 2010 floods has left him seeking other ways to maintain a steady income.

Without proper governmental support and reforms and the age-old contract system of fishing still in place, Hussain sees little hope of sustaining a regular livelihood. Although he manages to earn Rs80,000 in the winter season, because of the influx of domestic tourists and city dwellers who enjoy the delicacies of the Indus in colder months, he cannot say the same when the days become warmer.

The Abbaswala Bund also acts as a makeshift road for locals.

His concerns are echoed by Haseena Bibi, a stout, bright-faced mother of five who started a kitchen garden on a 10-marla plot she inherited from her father. Her entrepreneurial spirit saved her family from many health complications caused by the consumption of contaminated vegetables. She shares her harvest with neighbours and anyone who comes looking for organic vegetables. “My children love salad vegetables, but so do pests,” she says. “I have made an organic concoction out of bitter gourds that repels them. No chemical goes into my plants.”

Haseena’s seasonal vegetables are the talk of the town as she grows a wide variety to suit a diverse palate. She is one of the many women who have partnered with Waqas’s organisation in Basti Sheikhan Wali and Basti Allah Wali to run their kitchen garden. While some keep the vegetables for themselves and others sell them for a small sum, the fact remains that each household with a kitchen garden saves Rs6,000 on average per month by not buying vegetables from the market.

The dream of sustainable agriculture resonates with many including Javed who has dedicated his life to bringing local communities together to fish sustainably and find alternative livelihood options in low-catch season. While translating Haseena’s lilting Seraiki, he informs that he started working to conserve local plant and fish species at a young age and relies on his own strength to do the conservation work since there has been little official support for the cause. He currently runs his own community-based organisation and heads a small network of community-based projects under Umer’s project. “There is no money in what I do. But my father told me he would support me to do good work that helps others,” he says. “When he sees our success, he smiles and says he is proud of us all. I want my fellow countrymen to be proud of us as well.” Such is the conviction of people in and around Kot Addu who have wholeheartedly embraced the organic life.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 4th, 2014.

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Time for Organic Activists to Stop Spreading Lies | Heartlander Magazine

Time for Organic Activists to Stop Spreading Lies | Heartlander Magazine | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Wouldn’t making it in America be easy if you could just pass laws to put your competition out of business? That’s precisely what’s being attempted by anti-GMO organic activists across America today. Rather than win one consumer at a time in the market, attempts are being made to either label foods containing genetically-modified ingredients like a pack of cigarettes, or to simply ban them outright.

For the campaign to ban GMOs outright, we turn to Dr. Lanita Witt, an organic farmer in Oregon. And for the campaign to label GMOs – in spite of the complete lack of evidence that they cause any harm to humans, animals or the environment – we turn to Senator David Zuckerman, an organic farmer and state legislator from Vermont.

Activists like Wit and Zuckerman never tire of pretending that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) pose a threat to organic farms and the very health of the American public, citing “alarming impacts on industrial agriculture” along with concern “about the long-term health of our nation’s soils, water, flora and fauna.”

But, stop and think. If there was any chance whatsoever that GMO crops might put organic farmers like Wit and Zuckerman at risk, why didn’t organic stakeholders like Wit and Zuckerman say so in their standards for organic production? And why has there never been a single organic farmer who was de-certified, let alone faced disciplinary action, for alleged “contamination” of his crops by GMOs?

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) makes no mention whatsoever of GMOs contaminating or in any way undermining the organic integrity of organic crops. Full stop. Either people like Dr. Witt and Sen. Zuckerman are ignorant of the actual rules of organic production in America, or they are willfully ignoring federal laws on organic production that were written, edited and finalized by American organic stakeholders during the Clinton Administration.

There is no basis to Wit’s claim that GMO crops “put our family farmers at risk,” or that they endanger, as Zuckerman claims, the “health of our nation’s soils, water, flora and fauna.” In fact, such statements could very well be interpreted as defamatory being that they are based neither upon science nor, as mentioned, the very laws for organic production that organic stakeholders like Witt and Zuckerman helped write! Such statements are, at the very least, a form of false advertising for the tax-subsidized American organic movement.

The organic industry has grown exponentially over the very same time as the use of GMO crops on American farms has grown. So why lie and pretend GMOs pose some sort of risk? Clearly if there was any threat posed by GMOs to organic farming in America, the American organic industry wouldn’t today be worth more than all of Major League Baseball combined. If anything, it would appear that the existence of GMOs is good for the organic industry.

As Zuckerman himself admits, campaigns to force the labelling of GMO foods, alongside attempts to ban them outright, are “all, for lack of a better word, organic.” Ha ha — how droll, Mr. Zuckerman. But in all seriousness, is this really what being organic in America has come to mean? Attacking technologies that you disagree with?

The organic industry is really just a federal marketing system, as Clinton’s Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman stressed: “Let me be clear about one thing. The organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’ a value judgment about nutrition or quality.”

On behalf of the hundreds-of-thousands of American farmers who choose to grow GMO crops, Dr. Witt and Sen. Zuckerman should stop spreading fear over this perfectly-safe and highly-beneficial form of agricultural technology.

Instead of attacking their competition with misguided and decidedly unscientific political gambits, Witt and Zuckerman should quietly return to tending to their organic crops, and stand on their own merit. Who knows? They might even enjoy not being so darn negative all the time.


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9 ways to engage youth in agriculture

9 ways to engage youth in agriculture | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
In Africa over 200 million people are aged between 15 and 24, the youngest population in the world. This age group according to the African Economic Outlooks is expected to double in number by 2045...

 

In Africa over 200 million people are aged between 15 and 24, the youngest population in the world. This age group according to the African Economic Outlooks is expected to double in number by 2045. Low profitability, poor security of land tenure, and high risks are just some of the reasons Africa’s youth are leaving rural areas to seek jobs in cities, a migration that could see Africa with a shortage of farmers in the future. Given that agriculture is one of the continent’s biggest economic sectors, generating broad economic development and providing much of the population with food, this poses a serious threat to the future of farming and to meeting the demands of a rapidly growing urban population. Growing youth unemployment, ageing farmers and declining crop yields under traditional farming systems mean engaging youth in agriculture should be a priority.

Recent articles highlight this key challenge and suggest solutions for making agriculture more attractive to younger generations.

1)      Link social media to agriculture

The rise of social media and its attraction among young people with access to the appropriate technologies could be a route into agriculture if the two could be linked in some way. Mobile phone use in Africa is growing rapidly and people are now much more connected to sources of information and each other. Utilising these channels to promote agriculture and educate young people could go a long way in engaging new groups of people into the sector.

2)      Improve agriculture’s image

Farming is rarely portrayed in the media as a young person’s game and can be seen as outdated, unprofitable and hard work. Greater awareness of the benefits of agriculture as a career needs to be built amongst young people, in particular opportunities for greater market engagement, innovation and farming as a business. The media, ICT and social media can all be used to help better agriculture’s image across a broad audience and allow for sharing of information and experiences between young people and young farmers.

3)      Strengthen higher education in agriculture

Relatively few students choose to study agriculture, perhaps in part because the quality of agricultural training is mixed. Taught materials need to be linked to advances in technology, facilitate innovation and have greater relevance to a diverse and evolving agricultural sector, with a focus on agribusiness and entrepreneurship. Beyond technical skills, building capacity for management, decision-making, communication and leadership should also be central to higher education. Reforms to agricultural tertiary education should be designed for young people and as such the process requires their direct engagement.

4)      Greater use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Not only can ICT be used to educate and train those unable to attend higher education institutions but it can be used as a tool to help young people spread knowledge, build networks, and find employment. Catering to a technologically savvy generation will require technological solutions. Such technologies can also reduce the costs of business transactions, increasing agriculture’s profitability.

5)      Empower young people to speak up

If we are to enable youth to transform agriculture then the barriers to their engagement, such as access to land and finance, need to be addressed. National policies on farming and food security need to identify and address issues facing young people. As such youth need to become part of policy discussions at the local and national levels, whether as part of local development meetings, advisory groups or on boards or committees.

The Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) aims to provide a platform for young people to discuss opportunities in agricultural development, share experiences and advocate for greater youth engagement and representation.

6)      Facilitate access to land and credit

Land is often scarce and difficult to access for young people, and without collateral getting credit to buy land is nigh on impossible. Innovative financing for agriculture and small businesses is needed. For example soft loans provided to youth who come up with innovative proposals in agriculture or microfranchising.

7)      Put agriculture on the school curricula

Primary and high school education could include modules on farming, from growing to marketing crops. This could help young people see agriculture as a potential career. Farm Africa run a project aiming to help school children discover more about agriculture as a profession.

8)      Greater public investment in agriculture

Young people may see agriculture as a sector much neglected by the government, giving farming the image of being old fashioned. Investment in agriculture is more effective at reducing poverty than investment in any other sector but public expenditure on agriculture remains low. Regional and continent-wide programmes such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) may go some way in transforming the prominence and reputation of agriculture in Africa but national efforts and public investments are also needed.

9)      Make agriculture more profitable

This is an easy statement to make but a difficult one to realise. Low yields and market failures in Africa reduce the potential of agriculture to be profitable and to provide people with a chance of escaping poverty and improving their quality of life. Making agriculture profitable requires that the costs of farming and doing business are reduced while at the same time productivity increases. Although large-scale commercial farming springs to mind, this is not necessarily the case, and small farms can be highly productive with low labour costs.

Of course all of these solutions come with their own hurdles: access to education and technologies, rural development, land rights etc. But as one article states “Africa has the highest number of youth in the whole world, and some of the most fertile soils – the two combined could be a force to promote agricultural development!“ Foregoing engaging youth in agriculture and the potential for transformation this could bring because of the complexities of modernising agriculture would be a huge opportunity lost.

Can you add to this list? If you know of any ways or projects to help youth engage in agriculture, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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organic/natural farming: oriental herbal nutrients |

organic/natural farming: oriental herbal nutrients | | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
organic/natural farming: oriental herbal nutrients http://t.co/FQqYufffhj
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Inside An Old Chicago Packing Plant, Inspiring Proof That Urban Indoor Farming Can Succeed

Inside An Old Chicago Packing Plant, Inspiring Proof That Urban Indoor Farming Can Succeed | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
At The Plant, a group of food businesses runs in awe-inspiring harmony. A fish farm fertilizes the plants. A new brewery supplies carbon dioxide to... (Inside an old Chicago packing plant, inspiring proof that urban indoor farming can succeed.
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Nutrient run-off solutions found

Nutrient run-off solutions found | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
There's no silver bullet to fix nutrient runoff problems, but scientists are assembling a ‘quiver of armaments'.
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Korean Natural Farming & IMO

http://www.kalapanaorganics.com/natural-farming-with-indigenous-microorganisms/natural-farming/ http://www.kalapanaorganics.com/sweetcanecafe/ What if the be...
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Organic bazaars carry on tradition of city district bazaars

Organic bazaars carry on tradition of city district bazaars | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-353403-organic-bazaars-carry-on-tradition-of-city-district-bazaars.html

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Insecticides put world food supplies at risk - HortiBiz

Insecticides put world food supplies at risk - HortiBiz | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

The world’s most widely used insecticides have contaminated the environment across the planet so pervasively that global food production is at risk, according to a comprehensive scientific assessment of the chemicals’ impacts.

The researchers compare their impact with that reported in Silent Spring, the landmark 1962 book by Rachel Carson that revealed the decimation of birds and insects by the blanket use of DDT and other pesticides and led to the modern environmental movement.

Billions of dollars’ worth of the potent and long-lasting neurotoxins are sold every year but regulations have failed to prevent the poisoning of almost all habitats, the international team of scientists concluded in the most detailed study yet. As a result, they say, creatures essential to global food production – from bees to earthworms – are likely to be suffering grave harm and the chemicals must be phased out.

The new assessment analysed the risks associated with neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides on which farmers spend $2.6bn (£1.53bn) a year. Neonicotinoids are applied routinely rather than in response to pest attacks but the scientists highlight the “striking” lack of evidence that this leads to increased crop yields.

“The evidence is very clear. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT,” said Jean-Marc Bonmatin, of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, one of the 29 international researchers who conducted the four-year assessment. “Far from protecting food production, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it.” He said the chemicals imperilled food supplies by harming bees and other pollinators, which fertilise about three-quarters of the world’s crops, and the organisms that create the healthy soils which the world’s food requires in order to grow.

Professor Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, another member of the team, said: “It is astonishing we have learned so little. After Silent Spring revealed the unfortunate side-effects of those chemicals, there was a big backlash. But we seem to have gone back to exactly what we were doing in the 1950s. It is just history repeating itself. The pervasive nature of these chemicals mean they are found everywhere now.

“If all our soils are toxic, that should really worry us, as soil is crucial to food production."

The assessment, published on Tuesday, cites the chemicals as a key factor in the decline of bees, alongside the loss of flower-rich habitats meadows and disease. The insecticides harm bees’ ability to navigate and learn, damage their immune systems and cut colony growth. In worms, which provide a critical role in aerating soil, exposure to the chemicals affects their ability to tunnel.

Dragonflies, which eat mosquitoes, and other creatures that live in water are also suffering, with some studies showing that ditchwater has become so contaminated it could be used directly as a lice-control pesticide.

The report warned that loss of insects may be linked to major declines in the birds that feed on them, though it also notes that eating just a few insecticide-treated seeds would kill birds directly.

“Overall, a compelling body of evidence has accumulated that clearly demonstrates that the wide-scale use of these persistent, water-soluble chemicals is having widespread, chronic impacts upon global biodiversity and is likely to be having major negative effects on ecosystem services such as pollination that are vital to food security,” the study concluded.

The report is being published as a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research and was funded by a charitable foundation run by the ethical bank Triodos.

The EU, opposed by the British government and the National Farmers Union, has already imposed a temporary three-year moratorium on the use of some neonicotinoids on some crops. This month US president Barack Obama ordered an urgent assessment of the impact of neonicotinoids on bees. But the insecticides are used all over the world on crops, as well as flea treatments in cats and dogs and to protect timber from termites.

However, the Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide manufacturers, criticised the report. Nick von Westenholz, chief executive of the CPA, said: “It is a selective review of existing studies which highlighted worst-case scenarios, largely produced under laboratory conditions. As such, the publication does not represent a robust assessment of the safety of systemic pesticides under realistic conditions of use.”

Von Westenholz added: “Importantly, they have failed or neglected to look at the broad benefits provided by this technology and the fact that by maximising yields from land already under cultivation, more wild spaces are preserved for biodiversity. The crop protection industry takes its responsibility towards pollinators seriously. We recognise the vital role pollinators play in global food production.”

The new report, called the Worldwide Integrated Assessment on Systemic Pesticides, analysed every peer-reviewed scientific paper on neonicotinoids and another insecticide called fipronil since they were first used in the mid-1990s. These chemicals are different from other pesticides because, instead of being sprayed over crops, they are usually used to treat seeds. This means they are taken up by every part of the growing plant, including roots, leaves, pollen and nectar, providing multiple ways for other creatures to be exposed.

The scientists found that the use of the insecticides shows a “rapid increase” over the past decade and that the slow breakdown of the compounds and their ability to be washed off fields in water has led to “large-scale contamination”. The team states that current rules on use have failed to prevent dangerous levels building up in the environment.

Almost as concerning as what is known about neonicotinoids is what is not known, the researchers said. Most countries have no public data on the quantities or locations of the systemic pesticides being applied. The testing demanded by regulators to date has not determined the long-term effect of sub-lethal doses, nor has it assessed the impact of the combined impact of the cocktail of many pesticides encountered in most fields. The toxicity of neonicotinoids has only been established for very few of the species known to be exposed. For example, just four of the 25,000 known species of bee have been assessed. There is virtually no data on effects on reptiles or mammals.

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Eric Larson's curator insight, July 20, 5:19 AM

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Organic Agriculture Boosts Biodiversity On Farmlands - Science News - redOrbit

Organic Agriculture Boosts Biodiversity On Farmlands - Science News - redOrbit | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Does organic farming foster biodiversity? The answer is yes, however, the number of habitats on the land plays an important role alongside the type and intensity of farming practices. These are the findings of an international study that looked at ten regions in Europe and two in Africa. The results has been published in Nature Communications. The study shows that even organic farms have to actively support biodiversity by, for example, conserving different habitats on their holdings.

An international team, including scientists from Technische Universität München (TUM), investigated the contribution of organic farming to supporting farmland biodiversity between 2010 and 2013. Researchers wanted to explore whether organic farms are home to more species than their conventional neighbors. The team used uniform methods across Europe to capture data and analyze it to establish the impact of farming methods and intensity and of landscape features on biodiversity.

“Organic farming is beneficial to the richness of plant and bee species. However, observed benefits concentrate on arable fields,” says TUM’s Prof. Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen. His Chair for Organic Agriculture and Agronomy analyzed 16 Bavarian dairy farms.

The study investigated farms in twelve regions with different production systems. In each region, farms were selected randomly, half of them certified organic for at least five years. In Switzerland, grassland-based cattle farms were studied and in Austria the study looked at arable farms. In Italy and Spain, researchers focused on farms with permanent crops such as wine and olives, and on small-scale subsistence farms in Uganda.

More species because of field boundaries

More species were found in organic arable fields than in non-organic fields. In contrast, there was little difference in grasslands or vineyards. Organic farming benefited the four taxonomic groups of plants, earthworms, spiders and bees – which were sampled as surrogates for the multitude of creatures living on farmland – in different ways. In general, more species of plants and bees were found on organic than on non-organic fields, but not more species of spiders and earthworms.

If types of field boundaries such as grass verges or hedges were included in the comparison, the difference between organic and non-organic decreases. “Obviously, most species found in fields on organic farms tend to be concentrated in boundary areas on non-organic farms. There was little difference in the total number of species on the farms,” explains Max Kainz, who headed the sub-project at TUM. The occurrence of rare or threatened species did not increase on organic farms, according to Kainz.

Even organic farms need to increase habitats

To sustain farmland biodiversity, which is currently under grave threat, researchers have identified complement organic farming methods with dedicated efforts to conserve habitats. To increase the number of habitats, the authors of the study recommend adding structural elements, such as woods, grass verges and fallow land, to farms. “Surprisingly, viewed across all regions, we did not find a higher number of natural habitats on organic farms than non-organic farms,” reports Kainz.

“However, it was clear that habitat diversity is the key to species diversity,” adds Prof. Hülsbergen. He continues: “The results of the study underline the importance of maintaining and expanding natural landscape features – something that the EU’s Greening Program has been trying to accomplish.” If these additional habitats are different to the rest of the farm, for example hedges in grassland farms or herbaceous strips in arable farms, they have a huge impact on the biodiversity of a farm.


Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113180754/organic-agriculture-boosts-biodiversity-on-farmlands/#FQDqm1cKGxPdIGXT.99

 

 

 

 

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Hog Heaven

Hog Heaven | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Volume One Magazine | Years of big-budget marketing have convinced Americans that pork is “the other white meat" ...

http://volumeone.org/articles/2014/05/28/7333_hog_heaven

 

 

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Top 5 Agricultural Technologies 2014-2020 - Robotics Business Review

Top 5 Agricultural Technologies 2014-2020 - Robotics Business Review | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
“Scientifically viable in 2015; mainstream in 2018; and financially viable in 2019.”

 

http://www.roboticsbusinessreview.com/article/top_5_agricultural_technologies_2014_2020

 

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World Food Prize Winner Outlines Shift in Strategy – Focus on Consumers, Not Just Growers

World Food Prize Winner Outlines Shift in Strategy – Focus on Consumers, Not Just Growers | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
by Devon G. Peña – Environmental and Food Justice, 2 May 2014 Source: http://ejfood.blogspot.fr/2014/05/geo-watch-consumer-education-monsanto.html?m=1 Robert Fraley, Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer and this year’s winner of the dubious World Food Prize, recently admitted that Monsanto made a huge strategic error by focusing educational outreach on growers and ignoring consumers. An interesting analysis of this admission is presented in …Read More »

 

 

http://seedfreedom.in/world-food-prize-winner-outlines-shift-in-strategy-focus-on-consumers-not-just-growers/

 

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"Auction Day"

Do you know the art of auctioneering? “Auction Day” captures a precious national custom that may soon disappear. Filmed in Wales in the UK, the film shows a community

 

 

http://vimeo.com/ondemand/AuctionDay

 

 

 

 

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How farm to market-based solutions can take organic to the next level

How farm to market-based solutions can take organic to the next level | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

 

There may be a lot of info out there to sell you on the benefits of buying organic, but that still doesn’t protect you against experiencing some sticker shock as you walk down that eco-friendlier aisle. It may leave you wondering: Why do organic foods cost what they do?

Kellee James.

The data to answer that question has always been out there but, until Kellee James founded Mercaris, it was spread all over the place and hard to understand. Mercaris collects up-to-date information on organic crop prices, and then makes that information available by selling subscription services, which range from $80 to 500 a month, to all those that it affects; from the farmers who plant the seeds to the grocery stores that ultimately put the products in your hands.

The prices, of course, all come down to economics — pretty sexy, I know. But while most of us may not get up and raring at the thought of figuring out supply and demand, we can be thankful that there are people like James out there who are — because it could enable more people to get into the organics biz, which could mean more tasty, good-for-the-earth chow in your basket.

Grist interviewed James on how she became a commodities nerd, what’s going on with the prices over at Walmart, and how she bounced back after a somewhat disappointing year at the White House. Here’s an edited and condensed version of what she had to say:

On what Mercaris does:

We provide market data and then online trading for organic and non-GMO agricultural commodities. So, think about how you can use Bloomberg to track the price of stocks or bonds. There used to not be a good way to do this for organics, so Mercaris is filling in this lack of information. Our customers are anyone whose balance sheet is exposed to commodity risk price.

OK — huh?

It just means that we enable anyone on the supply chain who handles organic foods to keep track of their prices. You know, the farmer needs to know what he can expect to receive for planting organic corn. And then the person who operates the elevator where the corn will be stored needs to know at what price he can expect to buy the corn from the farmer – and then what’s an appropriate price to sell it for.

Then, imagine you’re trying to start a business – let’s say an organic snack foods company. You make, you know, corn chips or something. Imagine the difficulty of running that business if you don’t know the supply and demand of the basic things you use to make those chips.

And then you have retailers, like Whole Foods, who was our first data subscriber – they’ll want to keep track of these prices as well.

On why organics cost so dang much:

Right now organics do typically cost more, but that’s not always the case. If you look back when the financial crisis hit in 2008, organic grains overall dipped below conventional prices.

But I will say that some of the price difference – why organics are normally more expensive than non-organics – can be attributed to the fact that we as a society are willing to pay for healthier soil, reduced pesticide use, and farm-worker safety. Organic prices capture the externalities in a way that prices for conventionally produced foods do not.

On Walmart’s recent announcement about cheaper organic prices: 

It’s an open question, because they’re just getting started. So the question is will they be able to offer organics at the prices they claim – and, if so, how.

On how coffee and carbon made her a commodities nerd:

I got started in the world of commodities when I was in grad school. I was working in Latin America with coffee farmers. This was 12 years ago, when coffee prices were really low. And that made a big impression on me – the sort of impact the coffee commodity market had. People’s livelihoods depended on it, so it was really tough on the farmers when the coffee prices were so low.

When I finished grad school, I went to Chicago and started working for the very first commodities exchange that let people trade environmental products like carbon and sulfur. And I was fascinated by combining market mechanisms and environmental goals.

On working for the White House: 

In 2009 to 2010, I did a yearlong stint as a White House fellow, early in the Obama administration. It’s a program that’s been going for about 35 years – they pick about 15 people from across the U.S. every year, and they send you to Washington and tell you to be useful. But you can never foresee how the fellowship will end up working out: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened during that time, so that became my major focus. I was at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, helping out in any way I could on the administration’s response to the oil spill.

On White House disappointments:

I thought I was going to have a front row seat to watch climate legislation get passed. Instead, it died that year. It was really disappointing; it felt like a missed moment. I hope we don’t all look back a generation from now and say, you know, that was an opportunity to address climate change, and we missed it, and now we’re all dealing with the consequences.

On moving on:

So at the point I was done with my White House fellowship, I had this idea of getting involved with organic agriculture and providing market-based solutions. And so I thought, well this is the perfect time to do it – if not now, when?

Organic is still growing quite significantly. It’s interesting – conventional ag tends to grow kind of in line with population growth, but organics has seen double digit growth year after year for more than a decade. I think what we do is just an example of how you can see a need in a market and go out there and try to create something helpful and useful. And we are unapologetic in saying that we hope to help – Mercaris wants this sector to grow, wants sustainable agriculture to grow, and we are very proud to provide tools for the sector.

 

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Farmer D and the tao of composting

Farmer D and the tao of composting | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Daron Joffe's new book, 'Citizen Farmer,' offers a fresh look at farming and gardening, and it starts the way any great plot begins — with good dirt.

 

http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/farmer-d-and-the-tao-of-composting#

 

 

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#OurResponsibility

#OurResponsibility | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
April is #EarthMonth! Here's putting what might go in the trash to good use. #Composting #SproutsFarmersMarket (Interested in #composting but not sure where to begin?
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Brenda J. Rankin's curator insight, June 22, 2:57 PM

Good dirt is the secret to growing garden vegetables. Know what to compost .

 

 

 

 

Invisible Gardener's curator insight, July 12, 8:25 AM

Yes

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Glass gem corn

Glass gem corn | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
This lovely ear of glass gem corn is featured at Seeds Trust. They will begin selling seeds for it in August.

 

This lovely ear of glass gem corn is featured at Seeds Trust. They will begin selling seeds for it in August.

The story of glass gem corn. Seedsman Greg Schoen got the seed from Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee man, now in his 80's, in Oklahoma. He was Greg's "corn-teacher". Greg was in the process of moving last year and wanted someone else to store and protect some of his seeds. He left samples of several corn varieties, including glass gem. I grew out a small handful this past summer just to see. The rest, as they say is history. I got so excited, I posted a picture on Facebook. We have never seen anything like this. Unfortunately, we did not grow out enough to sell. Look for a small amount for sale starting in August 2011.

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Balut: The Fertilized Duck Egg Street Snack - Modern Farmer

Balut: The Fertilized Duck Egg Street Snack - Modern Farmer | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
A duck egg, fertilized for 17 days, hard boiled and then consumed right out of the shell is a popular Filipino bar snack. But it has its fans in the U.S. too.
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home

home | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
AgriBanks’ founders get personally involved with each customer to ensure the right financial solution is delivered.
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