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Chickens On A Diet -- Poultry Nutritionists Remove Pollutants From Watersheds By Adding Enzyme To Chicken Feed

Poultry nutritionists add an enzyme called phytase to chicken feed in an effort to decrease the amount of phosphorus that passes through them undigested. Research revealed the maximum amount of phytase that can be added to the feed without harming the health of the chicken. Reducing the amount of phosphorus that passes into chicken waste also reduces the phosphorus runoff into rivers and bays that can cause algal blooms and fish kills.

Millions of chickens, like many Americans, are starting a new diet regimen, but instead of helping to lose weight, the diet helps the environment.

Millions of chickens eat a lot, and excrete a lot of waste -- which can get into soil and can get carried off in storm water waterways. Now, poultry nutritionists are watching what chickens eat to help keep chemicals out of the environment.

"What we're doing is to make changes that will enable the bird to grow well, to be healthy and still have a reduction on the environmental imprint," William Saylor, Ph.D., Nutritionist at the University of Delaware, told Ivanhoe.

Chicken feed contains an essential nutrient called phosphorus -- but chickens bodies can't absorb it, so any excess passes thru the bird -- polluting the environment. Adding an enzyme called phytase to chicken feed helps birds digest more phosphorus.

Inside the birds digestive track, the phytase enzyme breaks down phosphorus molecules, so that the bird can absorb and utilize more of it … and less goes to waste.

"We've found reductions in phosphorus excretions from 25 to as much as 50 or 60 percent," Dr. Saylor said.h A big impact worth crowing about.

When is phosphorus bad for the environment? Phosphorus is one of the six most used chemicals in nature, so it's not all bad. But when too much phosphorus gets into a body of water, it can stimulate the growth of algae -- so much that the algae cover the water in a sheet that blocks out sunlight. Plants can't grow under this "red tide" of algae, so they die.

Bacteria eat the plants, and use up all the oxygen in the water. That's bad news for the fish, shrimp and crabs, or anything else that lives in the water. Red tides aren't always red—they can be green, too. Too much nitrogen can also cause a sheet of algae to grow out of control. Phosphorus and nitrogen are common ingredients in fertilizers as well as feed.

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Mosquito Trap

Mosquito Trap | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

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Indian Farmers Growing Record Yields With No GMO Crops or Pesticides

Indian Farmers Growing Record Yields With No GMO Crops or Pesticides | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

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Contrary to claims by Monsanto and government conspirators, we can indeed meet the world’s hunger without the use of genetically modified seed and manufactured chemicals. Bumper crops of rice, potatoes, and wheat are being grown in India using methods of Agroecology.

Agroecology is a dynamic agricultural approach that uses scientific information and local knowledge to produce practical methods that are low-cost and ecologically sound. This is quite a contrast to the “one size fits all” approach of GMO crops and chemical inputs being peddled by Monsanto and friends.

A particular kind of agroecology called System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is being applied in India to produce the record-setting yields.

SRI was developed in the 1980’s in Madagascar by Fr. Henri de Laulanié, S.J. He sought to improve their agricultural systems without being dependent on external inputs, as poverty was a widespread problem. Fr. Laulanié established a non-governmental organization that began working with the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development in 1994.

Now, SRI “is being hailed as one of the most significant developments of the past 50 years for the world’s 500 million small-scale farmers and the two billion people who depend on them.”

 

SRI is basically a change in the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients for irrigated rice. Seedlings are planted at a younger stage and spaced farther apart to encourage greater root and canopy growth and to increase yield per plant. These principles have more recently been applied to other crops like wheat, sugar cane, and millet, where it is known as System of Crop Intensification (SCI).

Water is carefully managed and applied at precise stages. Organic matter such as composted manure is routinely introduced to maintain tilth and microbial development. Even the process of weeding contributes to soil improvements. A simple rotary hoe used at certain times puts decomposed weeds back into the soil, aerates the soil, and stimulates root growth by root pruning.

It is basically using resources more wisely. SRI and SCI offer a long-term, sustainable future of agriculture for no extra cost, instead of patented GMO seeds and proprietary chemicals to enslave farmers in debt.

“Farmers use less seeds, less water and less chemicals but they get more without having to invest more. This is revolutionary,” said Dr Surendra Chaurassa from Bihar’s agriculture ministry. “I did not believe it to start with, but now I think it can potentially change the way everyone farms. I would want every state to promote it. If we get 30-40% increase in yields, that is more than enough to recommend it.”

Movements are growing around the world to embrace sustainable, efficient, and localized systems of agriculture. There is growing resistance to the efforts of Monsanto, western governments, and billionaire bankrollers to shove GMO crops down the world’s throat. The realities of local economies and the increasing knowledge of informed citizens will overcome the GMO juggernaut.

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BioEmarket The Global Organic E-Marketplace's curator insight, August 26, 2013 12:53 PM

This is an excellent example of how the organic agriculture could also provide a sustainable way of feeding the people from India. And the population is huge as we already know...

miguel sa's curator insight, August 30, 2013 2:47 PM

AN amazing revelation

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Karnataka farmer develops non-Bt cotton seed bank

Karnataka farmer develops non-Bt cotton seed bank | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

For 52-year-old Nagappa Nimbegundi, a farmer from Makari village in North Karnataka, this Independence Day was special. After three years of relentless efforts, he has managed to revive 13 varieties of indigenous cotton and 11 other varieties of non-Bt cotton in his farm.

The seed bank that he is developing is of significance as 90% of cotton production in India has been taken over by Bt cotton, a genetically modified variety developed by an American company. Indigenous varieties have become virtually non-existent and are difficult to find even at research institutions.

Nagappa, who used to be a Bt cotton farmer, was finding it difficult to grow the variety. When rains failed, his crop output would be very low. "I was facing many other problems. For instance, it's difficult to do mixed-cropping with Bt cotton. I wanted to grow some food crops too along with cotton. So I decided to search for native varieties from different states," says Nagappa.

With the help of other organisations, Nagappa collected cotton seeds from across the country like Bengal Desi from West Bengal, Comilla cotton from Bangladesh, Cernuum cotton from Meghalaya, Karung Kanni Parthi variety from Tamil Nadu, Wagad and Kala cotton from Gujarat, Pundur from Andhra Pradesh, Jayadhar from Karnataka and many others. It took him close to three years to multiply them.

"The process was slow but these native cotton varieties are extremely drought-resistant so they sustained in the harsh conditions here. In fact, some varieties also have the capacity to suppress weeds in the farm and are best suited for mixed farming," says Nagappa. He is, however, not sure what to do with the organic, native cotton yet. "May be I will sell whatever I grow. I am not sure people realise the value of these Indian varieties."

Activists say that Nagappa's efforts can inspire other farmers to cultivate original and naturally drought-resistant varieties. "The famous Dhaka muslin was woven with desi cotton. Bengal Desi cotton was grown in over 90 % of the area under cotton in the 1940s. But now it is being grown in less than 1% of cotton growing land. The price of Bengal Desi and other indigenous varieties has also shot through the roof increasing by almost five times," says Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samrudha, a farmer's collective.

While organic, indigenous cotton has a very niche market as of now, Nagappa hopes the demand will increase in the times to come.

Noted ecologist, Madhav Gadgil says Nagappa's effort should be replicated by other farmers. "Instead of promoting the interest of seed companies, government should promote farmers who are multiplying these rare native varieties. We have the protection of plant varieties and the farmers' rights act under which the National Gene Fund has been constituted. The aim of this body is to incentivise and promote farmers who are conserving seed varieties. This can revive biodiversity and liberate farmers from the monopoly of seed companies." Gadgil says.

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Saving seeds the desi way: Eco-friendly and at no cost |

Saving seeds the desi way: Eco-friendly and at no costPosted on April 24, 2012 by Ananda Teertha Pyati

Farmers depend more on seeds than on fertilizers, pesticides or any other inputs. This is because it is vital to obtain 90 per cent sprouting and when the quality of seed is good, there are no concerns of good germination.

Farmers pick out the best seeds out of standing crops and save them systematically. In the past they used traditional methods to conserve them but in the current scenario, they use the various chemical powders available in the market to preserve seeds. Additionally, the government distributes seeds every year and the need to protect and conserve seeds is not seen.

TRADITION

After the Green Revolution and the large scale use of hybrid seeds, most traditional varieties of seeds and crops have disappeared. While it is true that hybrid seeds give more yields in the beginning, the use of chemical fertilizers results in reduced crops after a few years and leaves the farmers in crisis situations.

To salvage this situation, it is important to use eco-friendly agricultural methods through revival of our indigenous knowledge. The only way to do this is by protecting traditional seed varieties as local seeds give equal and sometimes greater yields than hybrid varieties. It is possible however, that these seeds may be destroyed when conserved with chemical treatment.

In small villages, people still practice indigenous methods. An example is Honnalli village in Aland taluk of Gulbarga district. It has about 80 families, most of whom are agriculturists. Women farmers of this village have adopted traditional seed storage systems. `Bayalu Seeme Rural Development System’ (BSRDS), an NGO, working for sustainable agriculture implementation, is encouraging the farmers to follow such methods.

BOTTLE GOURD

Bottle Gourd, called as sore kaayi, is a commonly known vegetable. It has many uses. Children in villages are taught to swim by tying a dried bottle gourd on to their backs to prevent them from drowning. Dried bottle gourds are also used to preserve seeds. The procedure is simple. The gourd is first sun dried. A hole is then made at one edge and the seeds and dried pulp are scooped out. Urad, sesame, green gram seeds etc are then poured into the gourd through the hole. The hole is then closed with a mixture of cow dung and mud. The seeds preserved in this manner can be protected from insects for three to four years. When monsoon arrives, and the farmers prepare their lands, they open the bottle gourd by removing the mud cap and remove the seeds for sowing.

GALIGE

In Koppal and Raichur district, farmers use a method known as `Galige’. A galige is made from the leaves of wild palm and is shaped like a mud pot. It can usually hold from 10 kilos to a quintal. One part of red soil is mixed with two parts of cow dung and water. The mixture is pasted on the outer surface of the galige. It is then sundried for two days.

The galige is used to protect seeds such as urad, horse gram, green gram, red gram, winged beans etc. Before putting the seeds into the galige they are dried in the sun. Leaves of castor and neem are placed in the bottom of the galige and seeds poured in thereafter. The top is again covered with neem and castor and the mouth of the galige sealed with mud and cow dung mixture. This effectively protects the seeds from pests, insects and rats. Seeds can be preserved in a galige for up to two years.

The galige is opened in the winter to examine the health of the seeds. In the event of insect or pest attack, they are dried in the sun again and placed back. The mouth of the galige is sealed once again.

BALATHA

The balatha is a simple structure. It consists of a bamboo stick, one end of which is buried in the ground. Two ends of a bamboo mat are tied vertically to the bamboo to resemble a cylinder. Large quantities of paddy seeds are poured into the cylinder and the mouth covered with gunny bags. Some galathas can hold up to 25 quintals of seed.

There are some other unique methods of preserving seeds. Cucumber and water melon seeds are mixed with ash and water. Limestone is mixed with Tovar seeds, particularly in Gulbarga district where limestone is available in plenty. Sesame seeds can be preserved better when mixed with castor seeds.

With the introduction of the Green Revolution however, several indigenous techniques have been lost to us. Farmers have begun to use chemicals to preserve seeds without being aware of the hazards that arise from them. It is probably the appropriate time to understand that saving seeds the desi way is not only eco-friendly; it also does not cost anything.

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Obama Monsanto Connection

Obama Monsanto Connection | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
The Obama-Monsanto connection threatens U.S. economy.

Monsanto execs say they are baffled by the reappearance of GMO “zombie wheat” in Oregon.

I guess by "baffled," they mean they're trying to figure a way to ensure they are not held liable for fouling up a small farmer's land with an old version of the company's unapproved genetically modified organism.

As reported by the USDA, a discovery of a wheat variety developed by Monsanto (which is resistant to its Roundup herbicide), was discovered on a small farm in Oregon. Yet no one seems to be sure how it got there.

I have my suspicions...

It's no secret that the Obama administration has been very aggressive on maximizing agriculture exports. And I wouldn't put it past this slippery snake to look the other way as his puppet masters contaminate our soil in an effort to juice up our wheat supplies. By any means necessary, right?

Unreal.

Of course, if this is the case, the plan clearly backfired.

Monsanto Screws Farmers — Again!

About 50% of the U.S. wheat crop is exported, and in Oregon, about 90% of all wheat is sent overseas.

But there is no country willing to import genetically-modified wheat from the United States. So it should come as no surprise that when the news broke of this rogue genetically-modified wheat strain, some countries shut down U.S. wheat imports immediately.

South Korea and Japan are the first, though I expect there will be more, which is certainly going to severely impact this $8 billion wheat export business.

What a catastrophic mess.

As columnist Mike Adams recently pointed out, Monsanto is a ticking time bomb for U.S. agriculture:

This proves, without any question, that Monsanto’s genetic experiments which “escaped” into commercial wheat fields are now going to devastate U.S. wheat farmers. Expect the floor to drop out on wheat prices, and watch for a huge backlash against the USDA by U.S. farmers who stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars on this.

As the USDA has now admitted, Monsanto’s GMO experiments from 1998 — 2005 were held in open wheat fields. The genetically engineered wheat escaped and found its way into commercial wheat fields in Oregon (and possibly 15 other states), causing self-replicating genetic pollution that now taints the entire U.S. wheat industry.

Of course, the USDA is looking into it. Which basically means nothing with happen, and no one will be forced to take responsibility for potentially gutting wheat exports and poisoning our food supply.

Monsanto's Personal Whore

The USDA says its investigating the issue, but how do you think that's going to pan out?

After all, the USDA is pretty much run by Monsanto.

Hell, the entire United States government — from the White House to the State Department to the Supreme Court — is infected with Monsanto shills.

Check it out...

But make no mistake; the Obama administration has been the biggest whore for Monsanto yet.

 

Don't forget that just a couple of months ago, President Obama signed HR 933 into law and officially gave Monsanto the right to poison your food without ever having to fear legal action.

Hidden in the text of the Farmer Assurance Provision of HR 933, you can find a biotech rider that gives Monsanto the freedom to contaminate any farm in the United States without any type of legal accountability.

Heather Callaghan over at Activist Post spelled out the whole evil agenda perfectly. In regards to what has been called "The Monsanto Protection Act," Callaghan writes:

The USDA already gives biotech companies like Monsanto the thumbs up, trusting Monsanto's own safety evaluations. Now the court system cannot intervene, which could prove detrimental to farmers who are sued by Monsanto for patent infringement when their GM seeds contaminate those farmers' fields.

As pointed out in a recent piece in the International Business Times, this sets a precedent that suggests court challenges are now a privilege, not a right.

I don't care which side of the aisle you call home — there is a very real and very dangerous connection between the Obama administration and Monsanto.

I'd even go as far to say that it is a treasonous one as it puts our health, our safety, and our economy at risk.

President Obama has kicked and screamed about coal-fired power plant pollution, but has turned a blind eye to the highly unethical and very serious pollution of our food supply.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a bigger scandal than Benghazi, and should be treated as such.

Live honorably, live free...

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Specialist speaks out against genetically-modified foods.

Specialist speaks out against genetically-modified foods. | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
By Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca KingsCountyNews.ca About 80 per cent of the corn grown in Nova Scotia today is genetically modified (GM). In fact, it’s hard for farmers to find non-GM seed.

 

 

About 80 per cent of the corn grown in Nova Scotia today is genetically modified (GM). In fact, it’s hard for farmers to find non-GM seed.

Av Singh, an organic and small-scale farming specialist in Nova Scotia, noted that corn is pretty much in everything processed. He gave a talk on GM foods at the Wolfville Farmers Market recently, indicating that for soybeans in North America, the figure is closer to 90 per cent.

“This is really detrimental to organic agriculture,” he said. “It’s very threatening because we’re starting to see contamination.”

A friend of food activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, Singh said that locating non-GM sugar beets and now non-GM alfalfa will become difficult in Eastern Canada.

“Alfalfa is the biggest threat,” he stated. “There’s no way to control GM spread.”

He refers to canola as the first industrial food, adding he will only purchase canola oil from Europe.

He explained how buying feed processed by a mill, which also handles GM crops, is a challenge. Singh described the approval of GM alfalfa as a big deal.

Potatoes, he said, are the only crop without a serious genetically modified version because of consumer feed back. Singh recommends consumers ask whether the sweet corn they’re purchasing has been genetically modified.

Chemical interventions, he suggested, only lead to more chemical applications due to herbicide and insecticide resistance and promotion by the huge pharmaceutical companies that create these chemicals.

These interventions, Singh contends, do not address the real problems in the field, such as reducing weeds. Furthermore, he believes, health impacts for humans are on the horizon.

Studies on rats and some livestock, Singh said, have suggested that GM feed causes distress, “but a lot is only anecdotal evidence.”

He also worries about the loss of organic farmers in Nova Scotia. Numbers are down over a decade from 75 to just over 50 farmers.

“We would expect to have more,” Singh said. “It’s a bit of a challenge. Will consumers pay more?”

Singh has visited over 800 farms across North American, a journey that shaped his work on holistic farm management and soil health.

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Composting 101 Infographic - Learn to Compost - Trash Talk

Composting 101 Infographic - Learn to Compost - Trash Talk | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Composting is a free and easy way to reduce your impact on the environment and to produce your own free fertilizer for your lawn and garden. This infographic will teach you what to put in and what to leave out of the compost pile.
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Indigenous method of Rodent Management in Rice | Rice Knowledge Management Portal - Rice,Paddy,Dhan,Chawal,Rice Research Domain, Rice Extension Domain, Rice Farmers Domain ,Rice General Domain, Ric...

Indigenous method of Rodent Management in Rice | Rice Knowledge Management Portal - Rice,Paddy,Dhan,Chawal,Rice Research Domain, Rice Extension Domain, Rice Farmers Domain ,Rice General Domain, Ric... | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Indigenous method of Rodent Management in RiceContributed by rkmp.drr on Fri, 2011-06-24 10:23

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1.    In rice fields, nearer to the bunds big mud pots are immersed to half of its height. Half of the mud pots are filled with water and chaffy paddy is put into it. The chaffy paddy  mixed with the water emit a type of smell like the grain storage structure. Attracted by this smell, the rats jump into the pot but can’t come out of it as it is half empty. Farmers then catch the rats and kill them. This practice is prevalent in Kerala. Reported by Abraham(1997)
2.    Generally rats attack the rice crop at vegetative, ripening and harvesting stages and creates maximum damage to the crop. To control the rats, farmers use 10 kilograms of kuvalaikai (Cannabis sativa L)  seeds,  crushed into pieces and tied in a gunny bag. While irrigating the rice fields, the gunny bag is kept in the channel. The juice from the crushed seeds and the obnoxious smell mix into the water and spread into the whole field. This acts as a repellent driving   away the rats from the fields and protecting  the rice crop. This is very popular among the rice farmers in Tamil Nadu. Reported by Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems(2000)
3.    Farmers use 3 liters of motor oil  mixed it with water while irrigating the field.  Rats do not like the smell of motor oil and hence  keep  away from the rice fields. Reported by  Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems(2000)
4.    Ten kilograms of fresh cow dung is mixed with 1&frac12; liters of kerosene and the mixture is made into small balls and allowed to dry upto 75% moisture content. Then the balls are kept near the burrows at 10 feet interval.  The smell emitting from the balls acts as a repellant and drives away the rats from rice fields. Reported by Abraham(1997)
5.    Three-fourth ripened papaya fruits are cut into pieces and kept  near the rat burrows  and bunds of the rice fields. When rats eat the papaya pieces, the milk of the papaya pieces get into the gums of the rat. This milk not only disturbs the rats but also create some injury in the gums of the rat. This will prevent them from attacking the rice crop. They also cannot sharpen their teeth by cutting the tillers leading to excess growth of teeth  and disturbing  their food collection. Reported by Ulluwishewa(1993)
6.    Roasted groundnut powder and mixed with  little amount of jaggery and cement is used to kill the rats.  This mixture is kept on the bunds of  rice fields. Few hours after consuming it, the cement get solidified like concrete and affect the digestive system of the rats which ultimately leads to their death. This practiced in Tamil Nadu. Reported by Kanagasababathy(1993)
7.    Chappathi made up of wheat flour can be made into small pieces and it can be mixed with honey or jaggery and cement.  Rats like this chappathi pieces due to the sweet taste. But after few hours of eating they die because the cement get solidified. This practiced in Karnataka. Reported by Hegde(1997)
8.    At the time of tillering and booting stages of rice crop, the pods of groundnut, castor seed shells,  or husks of pearl millet/ finger miller/ paddy  are spread at the rate of  10 bags per acre. If practiced twice with a gap of ten days the rats can be controlled. It is practiced in Tamil Nadu. Reported by  Vijaylakshmi and Sundar(1998)
9.    Roasted gingley powder or groundnut powder mixedwith five percent  jaggery  in liquid form and five percent fused bulb powder is kept in the rice field. Ten minutes after eating the mixture  the rats will die. This is practiced in Uttar Pradesh. Reported by Narain Singh(2000)
10.    Small pieces of cotton wicks  soaked with jaggery solution are kept on the bunds of the rice fields. After eating  the jaggery solution coated wicks  the rats will die due to suffocation in  its respiratory system. Reported by  C.A. Mathew(1998)
11.    Half a kilogram of jatropha seed powder is boiled in 2-3 liters of water. After filtering the decoction, one kilogram  of sorghum  is added  and cooked  again. The cooked seeds of sorghum is spread on the bunds of the rice fields where rat menace is prevalent.  After eating the cooked sorghum seed the rats will die instantly. This very popular in Tamil nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Reported by Prakash(2000)
12.    Fumigating rat burrows with Milagu (Pepper Corns: Piper nigrum L ) and  Tippili  (Jawa  Pepper Corn : Piper longum ) will instantly kill the rats in rice fields. This practice is prevalent in Kerala. Reported by Hegde(2000)
13.    By growing glyricida plant near the rice godowns rat’s movement  can be controlled.  Spreading the leaves of glyricidia   inside the paddy store room  and closing  all the windows and ventilation points,  also helps  to control rats.  The smell from the leaves of glyricidia acts as a repellent. Reported by Patel(1994)
14.    Between the bunds and the main rice field, 3 feet gap  is to be maintained and in this gap, empty bottles  are  kept with the mouth of the bottles facing  opposite to the wind direction. When the air enters into the glass bottle it creates a type of noise which is highly allergic to the rodents. Hence, a minimum rat attack can be noticed. Karnataka farmers are  practicing this technique. Reported by  Abraham(1998)
15.    In rice fields, farmers  erect  nine feet stick or coconut stalk  in reverse position.  This is acts as a bird perch. At night time, owl or other nocturnal birds will sit and prey on  the rats. This one of the cost effective measures of rat control followed by rice farmers. Reported by K.Lakshmana(2000)
16.    A paste made  by grinding neem seeds and wild Puthina  is made into small balls and kept near the burrows in the rice field. After eating these  balls  the rats become sterile, hence  their multiplication  (reproductive behavior) will be checked. This is used by the farmers in Tamil Nadu. Reported by  Vijaylakshmi and Sundar(2008)
17.    Fully cooked parboiled paddy  is mixed with furadon granules and spread in the bunds, near burrows and other rat infested places in the rice fields. Rats are attracted  to the smell of parboiled  rice and eat it. After consuming the  parboiled paddy, the rat will die  within hours. This  is  practiced in Tamil Nadu. Reported by Kanagasabapathi(1993)
18.    Three kilograms of sorghum seeds are tied in a cloth bag and soaked in 4 liters of water wherein one kilogram of urea is dissolved. After eight hours  the sorghum seeds are taken out  of the urea dissolved water.  The sorghum seeds are spread near the burrows of the rice field. Soon after consuming the sorghum seeds the rats die. This is practiced in Tamil Nadu. Reported by VE.Sabarathinam(1998)
19.    Polythene papers (usually the fertilizer bags) are tied in bamboo sticks and kept in the rice fields at regular interval. When the wind blows, the paper (polythene bags) create a type of sound, which control the rat movement in rice fields. This technique is very popular in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.  Reported by  VE. Sabarathinam(1998)
20.    Scare crow (like effigy) made up of paddy straw and   covered with white cloth  is kept in the paddy field. Rats get scared by seeing the scare crow and evade attacking the rice crop. It is practiced in all the rice growing areas in India. Reported by  VE. Sabarathinam(1998)
21.    At evening time crackers are burst on the paddy field bunds to scare the rodents. Reported by Yadav(1993)
22.    Moultings by snakes are kept on the bunds of the rice field. Seeing the moulting of snakes in rice field rats shift their habitat from the rice fields, which ultimately reduce the damage of rice crop by rats. This is practiced in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Reported by Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems(2000)
23.    Farmers believe that  the presence of the Gaviribethi snake improves crop yields because it preys  on rodents. Reported by    K. Lakshmana(2000)
24.    The fruits of Kaunj posses small hairs which cause itching in animals as well as in humans when contacted.  The fruit skins of kaunj are kept in the rat holes. This causes severe itching in rats  when they come in contact  with these fruits. The raw material is locally available in Uttar Pradesh as grows abundantly in wild conditions. Reported by Madhavanand Joshi(2000)
25.    Leaves of bharalkans (Saccharum spontaneum) are collected  from bunds  of the fields  or road sides. Five to six leaves are placed on the  bunds  in a continuous row on all sides  of the field. The serrated margins of bharalkans cause injury to the rats and  thus  prevents  them  from damaging  fields. The practice is followed in Manda villge of Bareilley  district  in Uttar Pradesh, and is used  for the last  45  years. Reported by   Sher Singh (2000)
26.    3’–4’ long pieces of bhara grass are kept on the bunds continuously. This prevents entrance of rats to fields. Many villages and blocks of districts of Badaun, Bareilly, Rampur and Shajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh follow this practice. Reported by Husan Afzal(1999)

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Revolutionary new technology could fix the nitrogen problem in crops | Farming Futures

Revolutionary new technology could fix the nitrogen problem in crops | Farming Futures | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

What if a simple coating for crop seeds could reduce the amount of fertiliser used, pollution caused and save growers money? A new technology developed by scientists at the University of Nottingham could transform agriculture by allowing crops to fix nitrogen from the air.

In an effort to tackle the problem research at the University of Nottingham revealed a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar cane which has the ability to colonise all major crop plants. By coating the plant seeds with these bacteria it sets up a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship, providing every cell in the plant with the ability to fix nitrogen. The technology, known as 'N-Fix' would have a substantial global market and it is anticipated it could become commercially available within the next two to three years. Already a product of 10 years of research, proof of principle studies have proved successful and the technology has been licensed to Azotic Technologies Ltd to develop and commercialise N-Fix globally for all crop species. If the field trails are successful N-Fix could prove not only environmentally friendly but also very cost effective. This would be particularly beneficial to those growing crops in poorer parts of the world.

Via: https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/biosciencesktn/article-view/-/blogs/r...

More at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130725125024.htm?utm_source...

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List of Foods We Will Lose if We Don’t Save the Bees

List of Foods We Will Lose if We Don’t Save the Bees | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
While we don’t need bees to pollinate every single crop, here is just a brief list of some of the foods we would lose if all our bees continue to perish:

 

 

Many pesticides have been found to cause grave danger to our bees, and with the recent colony collapses in Oregon, it’s time to take a hard look at what we would be missing without bee pollination.

In just the last ten years, over 40% of the bee colonies in the US have suffered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Bees either become so disoriented they can’t find their way back to their hives and die away from home, or fly back poison-drunk and die at the foot of their queen. There are many arguments as to what is causing CCD, but the most logical and likely culprit is the increased usage of pesticides by the likes of Monsanto and others.

A study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has labeled one pesticide, called clothianidin, as completely unacceptable for use, and banned it from use entirely. Meanwhile, the U.S. uses the same pesticide on more than a third of its crops – nearly 143 million acres. Two more pesticides linked to bee death are imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. These are also used extensively in the US, while elsewhere, they have been taken out of circulation.


Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/list-of-foods-we-will-lose-if-we-dont-save-the-bees/#ixzz2as4OGzBM
Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

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The Crop That Can Feed the World?

The Crop That Can Feed the World? | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
As global temperatures and populations increase, sustainable and effective systems, such as enset systems, are essential to eliminating poverty and hunger.

 

 

Enset is a plant native to Ethiopia that is often referred to as the false banana because, not surprisingly, of its resemblance to the banana plant. It is grown in the less arid highlands of the southwestern region of Ethiopia. Enset contributes to improved food security for approximately 15 million Ethiopians and, according to The Christensen Fund, there is potential for expanding consumption of the crop. Over the coming weeks, Food Tank will feature different ways in which the enset plant has significant environmental, social, and economic benefits for farmers and consumers.

Global temperatures are expected to rise 4°C above pre-industrial levels within this century, which will likely harm agricultural production and increase hunger and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a recent report from the World Bank. In fact, warming of 1.2-1.9°C—which is expected to occur by 2050—is projected to increase undernourishment in Sub-Saharan Africa by 25-90 percent from present levels. 

Enset (Ensete ventricosum), also known as the false banana plant, is a relatively understudied crop, but it may provide a solution to the agricultural challenges of a warming planet. Enset supports 10 million people in southern Ethiopia and is known as the tree against hunger, due to its resistance against drought and soil erosion. In fact, interviews conducted with Ethiopian farmers suggest that enset-dependent populations have never suffered from a famine. 

Enset’s resistance to the agricultural stresses of a warming planet is largely attributable to the fact that enset fields do not experience soil erosion. The accumulation of litter from the enset plant creates heavy mulch and soil organic matter, which increases the fertility of the soil. Additionally, enset’s perennial leaf canopy improves soil quality by decreasing soil temperatures, and, in doing so, decreases rates of organic matter decomposition. Research from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) suggests that enset fields are far more sustainable in the long run than the fields of annual crops in Ethiopia, and, because of their ability to improve soil quality, enset fields can have be continuously productive for decades, if not centuries. 

Additionally, once enset is established, it can tolerate occasional years of drought or a short rainy season. In fact, enset fields have survived droughts that damaged annual cereal crop fields. Also, enset fields require almost no tending once they are established, further contributing to the crop's long-term sustainability. 

In addition to this long-term durability, enset fields are also able to sustain high population densities, which is increasingly important as the world population grows. The number of people living in developing countries is projected to rise from 5.9 billion in 2013 to 8.2 billion in 2050 and to 9.6 billion people in 2100, according to the U.N. Population Division. The use of land for enset production is commonly regarded as a response to higher population densities, due to enset’s high carrying capacity. While the human carrying capacities for different cropping systems are difficult to compare due to a lack of data, researchers speculate that the carrying capacity of enset is greater than other crops for the same agroecology and inputs. In fact, a study by Dr. Tadesse Kippie Kanshie at Dilla University reported that the carrying capacity of land planted to enset is around 0.2 hectares for a household of seven people, opposed to 1.5 hectares of land with annual grain.

Enset currently feeds some of the most densely populated agricultural communities in the world through a sustainable and reliable process. More research is needed in order to determine if this crop can be grown in other environments and climates in order to alleviate malnourished communities around the world. 

 

 

 

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Indian farmer promotes magic farming

Indian farmer promotes magic farming | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
A farmer in the northern Indian state of Bihar is using magic shows to promote organic farming, Amarnath Tewary reports from Govindpur village in Muzaffarpur district.
Shreekant Kushwaha, in his late 40s, is a farmer who is a trained magician and has been using his skills to convince farmers in the state to convert to organic farming methods.
In the last few years, he has conducted more than 1,000 magic shows and converted thousands of farmers to organic farming to "increase both their yield and incomes".
"Magic and farming are both science and need use of hands for their execution. Both become obsolete if denied new tricks," he says.
Most of his magic shows begin with some popular trick like making a small ball vanish into air, or pulling a pigeon out of a hat.

"Once I've grabbed the attention of the crowd, I go for the real thing," he says.
"I show them two boxes and tell them that one box has seeds with organic fertiliser while the other has seeds with synthetic fertiliser. Then I put a lid over both the boxes and say let's see which grows faster.
"When the lid is lifted, the seeds treated with organic fertiliser seem to have grown into small plants but those treated with synthetic fertiliser have not grown at all," he says.
"And then I explain why and how it is done."
Fortunes changed
He says most among the audience return home convinced that organic is the way to go.
Mr Kushwaha himself learnt the benefits of organic farming in 2001 from a training camp held in his village by a non-governmental organisation.
He says moving to organic farming changed his fortunes: he grows rice, wheat and more recently, medicinal plants on his farm and yields are high.
Once a poor farmer who could not even afford two daily meals for his family, he now owns a double-storey house, has a beautiful kitchen garden with decorative lights and flowers, a cow, a colour television, a computer and printer and a motorbike.
"I couldn't go to school, but I sent my children to school for a proper education," he says.
"It was all made possible once I started organic farming on my two-acre plot of agricultural land," he says.
"And, now my only mission in life is to promote organic farming."
The idea to promote organic farming with magic shows came to him in 2003 when "at a village agriculture fair I saw a magician pulling in the crowds for his shows and keeping them interested for well over an hour with his tricks".
"But when I approached the magician, he refused to teach me any tricks."
'Magic spell'
Mr Kushwaha did not lose hope and went to meet Ram Ratan Sharma, a famous magician in his area.
While he farmed his land during the day, he learnt magic at night, picking up more than 500 tricks in two years.
"The villagers and even my own family members said I was mad but I kept on," he says.
In 2005, Mr Kushwaha conducted over two dozen magic shows in his village to convince farmers of the benefits of organic farming.
A year later, Govindpur - a village of 150 households with a population of over 1,200 - was declared the first organic village in the state by the Bihar government.
Soon, the government-run State Bank of India adopted the village to provide all facilities to the farmers as they moved to organic farming.
An unlettered farmer who could barely write his name in Hindi, Mr Kushwaha has now been felicitated by several institutions, politicians and local organisations for his "unique experiment of farming with magic".
Today, he gives tips to farmers on how to make organic fertiliser to increase the soil fertility and better their yield.
Farmers Shankar Ram and Rajdeo Singh are all praise for Mr Kushwaha who has done the village proud with his sheer "dedication and determination to convert all of us to organic farming".
Says agriculture expert UK Sharma: "Mr Kushwaha has cast his magic spell on the farmers of the area."
At present though, Mr Kushwaha is worried about the depleting number of cows and buffaloes in the village which, he says, may hamper the move towards organic farming. Cow dung and urine provide valuable fertiliser for organic farming.
"Cattle rearing has become quite expensive these days so many people are moving away from it and migrating from villages to find jobs in the cities," he says. "But then, there is always a new trick in science and magic."
 - See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.in/2013/07/indian-farmer-promotes-magic-farming.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/Farming+(Agriculture+and+Farming)#sthash.KMisZcw4.dpuf

 

A farmer in the northern Indian state of Bihar is using magic shows to promote organic farming, Amarnath Tewary reports from Govindpur village in Muzaffarpur district.
Shreekant Kushwaha, in his late 40s, is a farmer who is a trained magician and has been using his skills to convince farmers in the state to convert to organic farming methods.
In the last few years, he has conducted more than 1,000 magic shows and converted thousands of farmers to organic farming to "increase both their yield and incomes".
"Magic and farming are both science and need use of hands for their execution. Both become obsolete if denied new tricks," he says.
Most of his magic shows begin with some popular trick like making a small ball vanish into air, or pulling a pigeon out of a hat.

"Once I've grabbed the attention of the crowd, I go for the real thing," he says.
"I show them two boxes and tell them that one box has seeds with organic fertiliser while the other has seeds with synthetic fertiliser. Then I put a lid over both the boxes and say let's see which grows faster.
"When the lid is lifted, the seeds treated with organic fertiliser seem to have grown into small plants but those treated with synthetic fertiliser have not grown at all," he says.
"And then I explain why and how it is done."
Fortunes changed
He says most among the audience return home convinced that organic is the way to go.
Mr Kushwaha himself learnt the benefits of organic farming in 2001 from a training camp held in his village by a non-governmental organisation.
He says moving to organic farming changed his fortunes: he grows rice, wheat and more recently, medicinal plants on his farm and yields are high.
Once a poor farmer who could not even afford two daily meals for his family, he now owns a double-storey house, has a beautiful kitchen garden with decorative lights and flowers, a cow, a colour television, a computer and printer and a motorbike.
"I couldn't go to school, but I sent my children to school for a proper education," he says.
"It was all made possible once I started organic farming on my two-acre plot of agricultural land," he says.
"And, now my only mission in life is to promote organic farming."
The idea to promote organic farming with magic shows came to him in 2003 when "at a village agriculture fair I saw a magician pulling in the crowds for his shows and keeping them interested for well over an hour with his tricks".
"But when I approached the magician, he refused to teach me any tricks."
'Magic spell'
Mr Kushwaha did not lose hope and went to meet Ram Ratan Sharma, a famous magician in his area.
While he farmed his land during the day, he learnt magic at night, picking up more than 500 tricks in two years.
"The villagers and even my own family members said I was mad but I kept on," he says.
In 2005, Mr Kushwaha conducted over two dozen magic shows in his village to convince farmers of the benefits of organic farming.
A year later, Govindpur - a village of 150 households with a population of over 1,200 - was declared the first organic village in the state by the Bihar government.
Soon, the government-run State Bank of India adopted the village to provide all facilities to the farmers as they moved to organic farming.
An unlettered farmer who could barely write his name in Hindi, Mr Kushwaha has now been felicitated by several institutions, politicians and local organisations for his "unique experiment of farming with magic".
Today, he gives tips to farmers on how to make organic fertiliser to increase the soil fertility and better their yield.
Farmers Shankar Ram and Rajdeo Singh are all praise for Mr Kushwaha who has done the village proud with his sheer "dedication and determination to convert all of us to organic farming".
Says agriculture expert UK Sharma: "Mr Kushwaha has cast his magic spell on the farmers of the area."
At present though, Mr Kushwaha is worried about the depleting number of cows and buffaloes in the village which, he says, may hamper the move towards organic farming. Cow dung and urine provide valuable fertiliser for organic farming.
"Cattle rearing has become quite expensive these days so many people are moving away from it and migrating from villages to find jobs in the cities," he says. "But then, there is always a new trick in science and magic."
 - See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.in/2013/07/indian-farmer-promotes-magic-farming.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/Farming+(Agriculture+and+Farming)#sthash.KMisZcw4.dpuf
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Simple mix of rock and organic waste is powerful fertilizer

Simple mix of rock and organic waste is powerful fertilizer | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
A simple mixture of organic waste, such as chicken manure, and zeolite, a porous volcanic rock, has been developed into a powerful fertilizer which can also reclaim desert or contaminated land.

 

Food and biofuel crops could be grown and maintained in many places where it wasn't previously possible, such as deserts, landfills and former mining sites, thanks to an inexpensive, non-chemical soil additive.

 

The additive, a simple mixture of organic waste, such as chicken manure, and zeolite, a porous volcanic rock, could be used to support agriculture in both the developed and developing world, while avoiding the serious environmental consequences associated with the overuse of chemical fertilisers. The mixture permits a controlled release of nutrients, the regulation of water, and an ideal environment for growing crops.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have demonstrated that with the addition of the biofertiliser, biofuel crops can be successfully grown and -- more importantly, sustained -- even on coal waste highly contaminated with metal residues.

Using coal waste from the site of a former colliery in Nottinghamshire as a substrate, the researchers grew rapeseed, flax, sugar beet and maize, with different additives: manure, zeolite, lime, or biofertiliser, as well as coal waste alone and regular garden soil. Plants grown in the coal waste with added biofertiliser achieved nearly twice the weight and yield of those grown in garden soil or in coal waste with added manure, and more than twice the weight and yield of those grown in coal waste with added zeolite. The results are published in the August issue of the International Journal of Environment and Resource.

The coal waste contains chemical elements that can be ionised by the biofertiliser, making nutrients which are essential to growth available for uptake by the plants. As the organic waste in the mixture decomposes, it produces ammonium ions which build up on the surface of the zeolite.

When the mixture is added to soil, it boosts the population of micro-organisms responsible for nitrification, which is essential for plant nutrition. The biofertiliser also helps plants develop dense root systems which stabilise the soil against erosion.

In addition to the coal waste, the team is working with marginal soils, such as those in desert climates, which normally require large amounts of water and chemical fertilisers in order for plants to grow. Control experiments have shown that water held in the zeolite increases the moisture content of soil in desert conditions. After initial watering, early-morning dew is held in the pores of the zeolite and released during the hottest part of the day. Plants grown with the biofertiliser achieve greater weight, and in the case of fruits and vegetables, a better taste, than those grown with chemical fertilisers.

Nitrogen is critical for crop development, yet is deficient in many types of soil. Over the past century, chemical fertilisers have been used to boost nitrogen levels and crop yields, helping global food supply keep pace with population growth. However, this has come at a cost as they are detrimental to long-term soil health. Without a regular input of organic matter, soil microbial diversity decreases and the carbon concentration is lowered. The overuse of chemical fertilisers causes the soil to lose both its ability to hold water and its overall structure, leading to greater runoff and groundwater pollution. Nitrogen-rich fertiliser runoff is the primary cause of oxygen depletion in oceans, lakes and rivers, leading to aquatic 'dead zones.'

"This is a whole new approach to plant nutrition," says Dr Peter Leggo of the Department of Earth Sciences, who developed the material. "Previously, you'd douse crops with chemicals, and it's caused a huge reduction in soil microbial diversity. It has reached the stage that in certain parts of North America enormous dust bowls have developed as a consequence. The material we've developed takes less energy to produce, improves soil structure and enables you to grow crops on almost any type of soil."

The team has plans to commercialise the material where there are large deposits of zeolite, and export it to other markets. There are also plans to collaborate with charities and social enterprises to create sustainable farmland for small hold farmers in the developing world.

 

 

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Google Glass

Google Glass | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Google Glass

 

 

http://www.agriculture.com/farm-management/technology/why-google-glass-on-farm_322-sl32370

 

 

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Persephone Farm offers organic food alternatives - North Kitsap Herald

Persephone Farm offers organic food alternatives  - North Kitsap Herald | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
Organic farming anywhere can be unpredictable, so when the owners of Persephone Farm opened the family-owned business in Indianola, they made sure it could take whatever Northwest weather threw at them.

 

 

 

NDIANOLA — Organic farming anywhere can be unpredictable, so when the owners of Persephone Farm opened the family-owned business in Indianola, they made sure it could take whatever Northwest weather threw at them.

The farm has more than 50 different crops, with different varieties of the same foods. When one type of broccoli, for example, won’t grow, another can take its place.

“That’s why we’re so successful, because we grow 54 different crops,” said owner Rebecca Slattery. “Maybe one crop won’t love the summer, but the next variety might thrive.”

The farm makes sure to have plenty of food year-round, as owners Slattery and Louisa Brown practice succession planting. Succession planting helps ensure a farm or garden is creating a high yield of vegetables by growing one crop after another. The crops are put on planting schedules based around how long each vegetable produces and the best time of year for each crop.

The farm services caterers, restaurants and individuals. It costs $650 to receive a full share of produce each season, which is about 22 weeks, and includes a bouquet of flowers each week. A split share costs $500 and is larger than half a full share of produce. The full share feeds a household of four; the split a household of two.

The farm is also a regular vendor at the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market. Though other farmers market’s in the area have asked the farm to setup a booth, Slattery said it is not in the cards right now. Regular customers, known as subscribers, receive a 10 percent discount at the Bainbridge Farmers Market stand.

The 13-acre, community supported agriculture farm offers shares to subscribers, which come in the form of produce boxes. There are also option shares for additional costs, including bread, cheese, eggs, fish, fruit, and more.

“We aim to provide 10-15 percent more value over the season than the cost of similar produce at other local outlets,” the farm’s statement reads.

The farm offers internships for interested agriculturalists looking to get on-the-job training. Lauren Stevens, an intern who grew up in upstate New York and attended Syracuse University, said her appreciation for agriculture has grown since she began working at Persephone Farms.

Stevens spent eight months in Phoenix, Ariz., where she began questioning where her food was coming from, as most was shipped in. At the end of her internship in Phoenix, she knew she wanted to start farming.

“I wanted to feel better about where my food is coming from,” Stevens said earlier in August. She wants to feel good about the food she is eating, because “it’s such a big part of our lives.”

By interning at the farm, Stevens has learned about farming techniques, which could help her avoid making mistakes in the future, potentially costing an unforeseen amount of money. For example, she wouldn’t have known to leave garden covers on carrots and other crops all year.

Stevens and the two other interns have also kept farm journals, keeping track of seeding and other critical data.

Though she’s not sure when or where it will be, Stevens knows she wants to start her own farm. There are options, including co-ops that share farming equipment, reducing costs.

“How I get from this point to that point, is still unknown,” she said. “We’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”

Where other farms focus on summer crops, such as tomatoes, Slattery said Persephone Farm specializes in crops that grow well the Northwest environment. The farm’s real speciality, she said, is greens. In fact, the farm is famous for its Wild and Fancy Salad Greens, a mix with about 60 different ingredients.

The owners of the farm try to steer away from greenhouse growing, especially growing vegetables out-of-season. The variety of gourmet vegetables is why restaurants are attracted to the business, Slattery said.

However, “We’re just as excited about tomatoes as everyone else,” she said.

The farm also offers flower arraignments, which are especially popular for weddings.

Popular produce seems to be based on what is highlighted on television and print publications, Slattery said. There are “crazes,” she said. Kale, for example, will be completely picked, whereas another crop could be almost untouched.

Persephone Farm first opened on Bainbridge Island, and had about 11 subscribers. Slattery, Brown and their husbands purchased the Persephone Farm property in Indianola in 2001. The 13 acres is split between the two families.

Persephone Farm and its owners were recognized June 8 by the Stillwaters Environmental Center with the 2013 EcoFest Sustainable Business of the Year Award. The award was given for the farmers’ “outstanding service to the Earth — by promoting and supporting our healthy eating habits, and by using organic, healthy farming practices to protect their ecosystems, and be being a strong supporter of our local community.”

Subscribers have increased as high as 60 since moving, Slattery said. It’s held at about 40 recently.

Subscribers can pick up produce at the farm or at Johnson Farms on Bainbridge Island two days per week. The farm sells its produce at the Saturday Bainbridge Island Farmers Market.

 

Contact North Kitsap Herald Education/Sports Reporter Kipp Robertson at krobertson@northkitsapherald.com or (360) 779-4464.

 
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Organic farming helps farmers increase their resilience to climate change |

Organic farming helps farmers increase their resilience to climate changePosted on August 2, 2013 by admin

Mathuralal Patel is not sure why someone in New Delhi or Mumbai would prefer vegetables from his farm to his neighbour’s, but he knows that the way he grows crops is good for his soil.

Using organic fertilisers, he says, helps increase the fertility of his soil, while using too many chemical fertilisers degrades the land’s soil quality.

For Patel, a farmer in the Bundelkhand region of Central India, organic farming increases his resilience to respond to the risk of climate variability. Over 70 per cent of the population in this region relies on predominantly rain fed agriculture for their subsistence.

While the threat of drought has always loomed over this semi-arid region, farmers and scientific experts worry that climate change may make drought conditions even more common in the future thereby increasing food insecurity and migration rates.

From field trials conducted in arid, semi-arid, sub-humid and humid regions of India, Navdanya, a research organisation found that organic farming techniques can improve soil carbon levels by five per cent to 25 per cent and increase the water holding capacity of soils between two per cent to 17 per cent.

Soils with higher concentration of carbon content are better able to absorb and retain water because the organic matter acts like ‘sponge’ absorbing excess water and retaining it in the soil. More moisture in the soil is particularly valuable for farmers in drought prone, dry regions.

Organic farming systems also increase biodiversity by cultivating different genetically diverse crop varieties.

Finally, the price premium that organic produce garners from the health and taste benefits perceived by city consumers allows organic farming to be financially more profitable than conventional farming.

Together with using adaptation strategies such as water efficient irrigation techniques and drought tolerant seed varieties, organic farming can help farmers cope with the impacts of the changing climate.

By: Nicholas Monzy Martin
Source: http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/organic-farming-helps-farmers-increase-their-resilience-to-climate-change_865934.html

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Promise of Ancient Seeds For India’s Beleaguered Farmers |

Promise of Ancient Seeds For India’s Beleaguered FarmersPosted on August 5, 2013 by admin

Ancient seeds have offered new hope to India’s beleaguered farmers.

According to media reports, farmers in the Ganges River delta in Eastern India are using ancient seeds in the hopes of fighting off famine and keeping their crops sustainable in a climate-changed India.

Media reports say in a case study in the Ganges River delta, scientists are distributing these ancient seeds to farmers free of charge. This case study was launched after farmers found that the high yielding modern seeds they had used since the 1960s failed after a massive tropical storm intruded inland and contaminated their farmlands with salty sea water in 2009.

Cyclone Aila crashed into the Bangladesh-India border about four years ago, according to reports. It brought along a giant surge of sea water. The water rammed inland, causing widespread damage.

It destroyed houses and immersed crops under water. It polluted drinking water. It forced people to flee their homes. According to international agencies, the storm is said to have impacted about three million people.

The cyclone also left lasting damage in the fact that it doused farmlands with salt water. When the waters receded, they left salt in the soil. Four years later, according to international agencies, the tragedy is still having a devastating effect on the lives of many people in the country.

Many people do not have enough food. Many lack safe drinking water and many more do not have a means to make a living. Most tragic of all, farmers are having a hard time growing crops because of the salt in the farmland. Four years after this devastation, farmers say growing food is a challenge on these farmlands because of the salt. They say their seeds have failed them.

According to experts, the seeds that failed were the modern variety that the farmers had started using after the so called green revolution of the 1960s. Asish Ghosh, Director of the Kolkata-based Center for Environmental Development, said in a recent interview that growing crops is a challenge because the sea water, after it receded, left salt in the farm soil.

He told reporters recently “farmers cannot have any vegetables growing after Aila because still — still there is salt in the soil.”

According to scientists, densely populated river deltas across the globe have had to face similar challenges as climate change is forcing coastlines to retreat and allowing salt to invade on lands which were once upon a time fertile farmlands.

To adapt to challenges of rising sea levels and powerful storms brought on by climate change, a case study found that ancient seeds, developed more than a hundred years ago were found successful in keeping crops sustainable.

According to media reports, this field study found, for example, that the only variety of rice that will grow in the contaminated Ganges River delta is a salt-tolerant rice variety developed more than a century ago by small-scale farmers. Indian scientists told reporters that there were more than a hundred thousand varieties of rice alone at one time. But according to them, most of those seeds are now lost.

Media reports say that Debal Deb, a scientist and a rice conservator is now in a race against time and determined to save as many traditional seeds as possible. In the last decade, he has traveled across India to salvage what is left of those traditional seeds.

“My own collection, I have more than 200 varieties, some of which can withstand drought and can yield something on zero irrigation, some varieties which can withstand 12-feet deep-water for three months, and the stem will elongate and still give some yield.

And we have at least six varieties of salt-tolerant rice which can withstand seawater intrusion. These are the unique properties which genetic engineers have not yet imagined.”

According to reports, nonprofit organizations are working with farmers to restore these traditional seeds which went out of use because farmers after 1960 started to use high-yielding seeds of the green revolution.

Deb told reporters that governments and agribusiness are just now coming to the recognition of how vital and critical these ancient seeds are to the future of agriculture and feeding billions. He said that in spite of billions of dollars spent on plant breeding and genetic engineering programs, these programs have yet to produce seeds that rival the tolerance of the traditional seeds to extreme weather-related conditions.

He added that the importance of these traditional seeds cannot be overemphasized to the future of agriculture as climate change envelopes the planet.

By: Perviz Walji
Source: http://guardianlv.com/2013/08/promise-of-ancient-seeds-for-indias-beleaguered-farmers/

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Organic Farming Profits

Don't write off farming as a profession of the past. Organic farms across the country are growing into booming businesses...

 

 

So you’re looking to get into business, preferably in a field that is not saturated and is still in its infancy with plenty of growth potential. Well, the field you might want to look into is the field itself… farming.

But I’m not talking your conventional agriculture. I’m talking organic farming. There is more than just organic foods growing in the fields of organic farms; there is profit potential growing in the field of organic farming.

Growing Demand for Organics

Perhaps the first thing an entrepreneur assesses when selecting a business activity to undertake is the demand for its products and services. Have you taken a good look at your local supermarket shelves lately? Larger and larger sections are being devoted to organic foods, and the stats are there to back that observation.

Still a relatively new field of business, it was only in 2002 that the USDA put into place national standards governing organic food cultivation. Since then, the number of certified organic farms, ranches, and processing facilities has mushroomed from about 7,200 in 2002 to 17,281 operations by 2011, an increase of 240%.

Most of the demand for organic foods in America is – you guessed – on the West Coast, where people tend to place a greater emphasis on health and fitness. According to AGMRC – Agricultural Marketing Resource Center:

“While there were organic farms or ranches in all 50 states, nearly 20 percent, or more than 2,700 of the operations, were in California. Other states with large numbers of certified and exempt organic operations were Wisconsin (1,222), Washington (887), New York (827) and Oregon (657).”

OK. So they are popular. But is there money in it? “A recent study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) indicated that U.S. sales of organic products, both food and non-food, have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $31.5 billion in 2011, increasing 9.5 percent in the last year … and industry experts are forecasting steady growth of 9 percent [per year] or higher,” AGMRC reports. Now that’s growth potential!

But there is a lot more to organic agriculture than just contaminant-free apples and lettuce, as The Organic Trade Association breaks down for us: “The organic food and beverage sector was valued at $29.22 billion, while the organic non-food sector reached $2.2 billion...The organic food sector grew by $2.5 billion during 2011, with the fruit and vegetable category contributing close to 50 percent of those new dollars. The fastest-growing sector was the meat, fish & poultry category, posting 13 percent growth over 2010 sales.”

Aside from the well known organic fruits and veggies, there are also organic juices and other beverages, plus the meats of the land and sea, whose 13% annual growth is well above the entire organic spectrum’s 9.5%.

Greater Potential in Non-Food Organics

But what are those “non-food” organics mentioned above? An entrepreneur might want to pay special attention to these, which may enjoy the greatest growth potential of all organics going forward, as AGMRC explains:

“Growth in the organic sector has highlighted issues that need to be addressed: shortages of organic raw materials such as organic grain and organic sugar… A shortage of affordable organic ingredients or products, such as corn and soybeans for livestock feed, left organic producers unable to meet market demand.”

This shortage of non-food organics – that is to say, items that are not intended for human consumption, but are intended as animal feed instead – will have a dramatic impact on that single fastest organic food sub-group mentioned above: the meats. What makes these meats organic is the organic feed the animals consume. Without organic feed, you really cannot have completely organic meats.

In fact, if the demand for organic feed were met, the organic meat sector would be growing by much more than 13% per year. Even the restaurant chain Chipotle (NYSE: CMG), well-known for its exclusive use of organically raised beef, has had to replace its menu choices with conventional beef due to the shortage of organically raised cattle. Imagine signing them as your buyer.

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Biovegetal Bio-fertilizers: Living Products | Bio-Vegetal - Ricerca e sviluppo fertilizzanti organici

Biovegetal bio-fertilizer is a living fertilizer. It improves soil fertility and re-establish soil life. That’s why it is much more than an organic fertilizer

 

 

 

 

 

Biovegetal Bio-fertilizers: Living Products

Biovegetal is a bio-fertilizer. Its living microorganisms bring life to soil and restore the right dynamical balance necessary to have the best results from cultivations.

Our bio-fertilizer supplies stable organic matter with an high content of fulvic and humic acid.

A careful selection of raw materials constantly guarantees high product quality and reliability and the whole manufacturing process has been created to preserve microorganisms life.  

Biovegetal is an healthy and complete nutrition for plants. It is a particular type of organic fertilizer which gradually releases soil organic matter and many other microorganisms necessary to produce fertility elements and to re-establish soil life.

Furthermore, our organic fertilizer cuts off chemical fertilizers use and the necessity of re-applying them regularly (in increased quantities).

In addition to supply soil with stable organic matter, Biovegetal products stand out from the other fertilizers for the following reasons:

Thanks to the innovative manufacturing process, Biovegetal bio-fertilizer holds living micro-organisms responsible for soil biological fertility.Thanks to a careful matrices selection, Biovegetal products have an high glycinebetaine and proline content: two organic compounds extremely useful for plants to defend themselves against environmental stresses deriving from excess salinity in soil and from excessive weather conditions.Thanks to wide biodiversity of its biotic component, Biovegetal soil amendment is recommended to mitigate cultivation problems caused by soil sickness. Moreover, Biovegetal is a valid help against soil pathogens which attempt crop cultivations.From a microbiological point of view, Biovegetal is better than organic fertilizers of animal origin because it holds a microbiotic concentration about 30 times bigger than animal derived products.

Besides our standard products, it is possible to create customized bio-fertilizers according to specific needs. Actually, our R&D Department provides agricultural consulting for our clients. Starting from a detailed soil analysis, Biovegetal agronomist engineers create customized solutions for specific soil needs.

 

Biovegetal advantages:

Increased crop yield and crop quality and reduced production costBiovegetal bio-fertilizer ensures plentiful harvests, healthier plants, more resistance against parasite attacks, less irrigation and neutralization of harmful elements present in soil. - See more at: http://www.biovegetal.it/eng/page.php?id=20#sthash.sk0u0sAx.dpuf

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Organic farming helps farmers increase their resilience to climate change

athuralal Patel is not sure why someone in New Delhi or Mumbai would prefer vegetables from his farm to his neighbour`s, but he knows that the way he grows crops is good for his soil.

 

Bundelkhand (Madhya Pradesh): Mathuralal Patel is not sure why someone in New Delhi or Mumbai would prefer vegetables from his farm to his neighbour's, but he knows that the way he grows crops is good for his soil.

Using organic fertilisers, he says, helps increase the fertility of his soil, while using too many chemical fertilisers degrades the land's soil quality.

 

For Patel, a farmer in the Bundelkhand region of Central India, organic farming increases his resilience to respond to the risk of climate variability. Over 70 per cent of the population in this region relies on predominantly rain fed agriculture for their subsistence.

While the threat of drought has always loomed over this semi-arid region, farmers and scientific experts worry that climate change may make drought conditions even more common in the future thereby increasing food insecurity and migration rates.

From field trials conducted in arid, semi-arid, sub-humid and humid regions of India, Navdanya, a research organisation found that organic farming techniques can improve soil carbon levels by five per cent to 25 per cent and increase the water holding capacity of soils between two per cent to 17 per cent.

Soils with higher concentration of carbon content are better able to absorb and retain water because the organic matter acts like 'sponge' absorbing excess water and retaining it in the soil. More moisture in the soil is particularly valuable for farmers in drought prone, dry regions.

Organic farming systems also increase biodiversity by cultivating different genetically diverse crop varieties.

Finally, the price premium that organic produce garners from the health and taste benefits perceived by city consumers allows organic farming to be financially more profitable than conventional farming.

Together with using adaptation strategies such as water efficient irrigation techniques and drought tolerant seed varieties, organic farming can help farmers cope with the impacts of the changing climate. By Nicholas Monzy Martin, Development Alternatives

ANI

For Zee News’s Updates, follow us on Twitter , Facebook, Google+, Pinterest

 

First Published: Thursday, August 01, 2013, 12:52

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NoshPlanet's curator insight, August 11, 2013 11:47 PM

This is a nice perspective - it doesn't always have to be about the motivation of whoever buys the food. Sometimes it's just because organic techniques are better for the soil.

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New Agriculturist: Research and innovation - Valuable vegetables at 3,000 metres

New Agriculturist: Research and innovation - Valuable vegetables at 3,000 metres | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
High in the Peruvian Andes, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture has been working with Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and McDonalds to enable smalscale vegetable farmers earn a better living.

 

High in the Peruvian Andes, tourists set off from the city of Cusco to see the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. Numerous chefs and hoteliers serve both the visitors and Cusco's large population. In the past, all salad vegetables came in by air from large farms around Peru's capital, Lima. Yet, nearby Andean smallholders also grow tomatoes, onions and lettuces. But although well supplied with water, and just a short drive from Cusco, these small farmers were not used to growing the high quality of vegetables demanded for the restaurant market.

 

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) believed that smallholders should and could have access to this lucrative source of income. "We believed there had to be an opportunity here," says SFSA agribusiness manager Robert Berlin. "But unlocking the opportunity required the right partners." The choice fell on Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation (HSI) and McDonalds. "Many people are surprised by this combination," says Berlin. "But the two organizations are both committed to this region. The hamburger chain's Cusco outlet wants more local ingredients, and HSI is committed to helping Andean farmers earn a better living. Those goals are easy to align."

Hearts, heads and quality

HSI provided farmer training in the local language Quechua. "Helping people to change the way they work means you have to reach their hearts as well as heads," says SFSA's communication manager, Paul Castle. "This project requires the smallholders to alter a lot of old habits. I don't think that would have been possible if everything had been in Spanish." Symbolising this local touch is the project's name Qorichacra, which means 'golden farm' in Quechua.

Shaping the shift from old habits to modern farming were the expectations of Arcos Dorados (AD), the McDonalds business operator in Latin America. HSI taught smallholders about AD production protocols, hygiene measures and how to build greenhouses with wood and netting. "We're committed to buying more local produce wherever we operate," says Leonardo Lima, head of quality at AD. "But without compromising on our standards in any way."

AD's strong commitment to local sourcing is crucial to the project's success. "We needed a partner ready for longer-term engagement," explains Berlin. "Cusco's small family-run restaurants understandably don't have that stamina, or the willingness to risk a project failure."

Launched in 2010, the project provided two years of capacity-building and training. Weekly deliveries to Cusco's McDonalds restaurant began in October 2011. The original 14 smallholder families from two villages have been joined by a dozen neighbours, all trained by HIS, the farmers selling 20 per cent of their lettuce production to AD. The remainder goes to other local customers. "That shows another advantage of teaming up with AD," notes Castle. "By proving that smallholders really can contribute to the highly demanding McDonalds supply chain, we raised the confidence of other local buyers."

Better housing, bigger income

Rolling out the scheme within Cusco is only part of the story, however. "In November 2012, deliveries began to a second McDonalds restaurant," Carola Amézaga, SFSA project director in Peru, proudly reports. "That outlet is down south in Arequipa, our country's second-largest city." SFSA is now in discussion with AD about a possible expansion to Brazil.

Local farm experts have helped villagers refurbish their houses
© Syngenta Foundation and Arcos Dorados

Amézaga recently joined SFSA from HSI. "Hand in hand with the new demands on vegetable quality and hygiene, we combined the agricultural work with a home improvement scheme," she explains. "Local farm experts called Kamayoq help villagers to refurbish their houses and improve their domestic hygiene. The scheme runs as a friendly competition and has already greatly improved local living standards." Again, because the Kamayoq speak Quechua, they can build better rapport with the farmers than Spanish-speakers from Lima or abroad.

Smallholders like Fortunato Ccolque are happy to show visitors, including local magazine and TV journalists, the difference that this scheme has made to their housing. The improvements include cleaner food preparation and separate quarters for humans and animals. Grower Leopoldo Quispe Velásquez is also delighted to talk about the huge leap in his lettuce income. This used to be only 500-600 Soles per year (about US$200). Today, he and his neighbors earn over 11,000 Soles (US$4,000) each from a range of vegetables. "Thanks to Qorichacra, average family income rose 177 per cent between 2010 and 2012," adds Berlin. "And we believe that this kind of scheme could be repeated in many other countries."

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Revolutionary new technology could fix the nitrogen problem in crops | Farming Futures

Revolutionary new technology could fix the nitrogen problem in crops | Farming Futures | Organic Farming | Scoop.it
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The Tree Against Hunger

Description of Enset and Systems

What does enset look like?
What is the botanical classification of enset and how is it distributed?
What are the enset-based systems of Ethiopia?

What does enset look like?

Enset looks like a large, thick, single-stemmed banana plant (Plate 2). Both enset and banana have an underground corm, a bundle of leaf sheaths that form the pseudostem, and large leaves (Figure 2.1). Enset, however, is usually larger than banana, with the largest plants up to 10 meters tall and with a pseudostem up to one meter in diameter. The leaves are more erect than those of a banana plant, have the shape of a lance head, and may be five meters long and nearly one meter wide. Banana plants normally form suckers or clusters of plants at the base, but enset does not.

Figure 2.1. Enset plant structure
[zoom]

The stem has three parts. The upper-most portion is the pseudostem, which is made of a system of tightly clasping leaf bases or leaf sheaths. The pseudostem may be two to three meters tall and contains an edible pulp and quality fiber. The underground corm is really an enlarged lower portion of the stem. It may be up to 0.7 meters in length and in diameter. A short section of stem near the soil line, between the pseudostem and corm, is the true botanical stem. Leaves and the single flower head initiate from the true stem at its center, grow up through the middle of the pseudostem, and emerge at the whorl in the middle of the leaf bases. Enset has a fibrous rooting system that grows out from the corm.

At maturity, a single flower head emerges, which forms multiple flowers, fruit, and seeds. The entire head, which may be nearly one meter in length, hangs downward from a stalk in the center of the plant. Many of the small, banana-like fruits (enset is sometimes called false banana) on each flower head produce several irregularly shaped black seeds, each about one centimeter across. Most wild and a few cultivated plants are produced from seed, and have more than one parent. Most domesticated plants, however, are propagated from suckers, and are clones of their one parent. Most plants are harvested before or at early stages of flower formation.

What is the botanical classification of enset and how is it distributed?Figure 1. General Area of Enset Cultivation
[zoom]

Enset belongs to the order Scitamineae, the family Musaceae, and the genus Ensete. Banana is in the same family as enset, but in the genus Musa. Although further research still needs to be done on the taxonomy and distribution of enset species, current data reveal two wild enset species distributed over much of Asia, and four wild species in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar (Baker and Simmonds, 1953; Simmonds, 1958). Ensete ventricosum, the only known wild species in Ethiopia, is concentrated in the southern highlands, but also grows in the central and northern highlands around Lake Tana, the Simien Mountains, and as far north as Adigrat and into southern Eritrea (Simoons, 1960 and 1965; and observation by the authors) (Figure 1).

In spite of the extensive distribution of wild enset, it is only in Ethiopia that the plant has been domesticated. Wild enset propagates naturally by seed, and is restricted in Ethiopia to elevations of approximately 1,200 to 1,600 meters above sea level. However, farmers almost always propagate domesticated enset vegetatively, and recognize more than 50 different varieties, clones, or landraces (Alemu and Sandford, 1996; Shigeta, 1991; Zippel, 1995). Domesticated enset (also classified taxonomically as Ensete ventricosum) is planted at elevations ranging from 1,100 to more than 3,000 meters, indicating the extent to which its natural distribution has been expanded artificially through domestication. Vernacular names for domesticated enset include enset (Amhara), asat (Gurage), weise (Kambata), and wassa (Sidama), among others.

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15 Seed Saving Initiatives Protecting Biodiversity for Future Generations

15 Seed Saving Initiatives Protecting Biodiversity for Future Generations | Organic Farming | Scoop.it

Roughly 100,000 global plant varieties are endangered today. Extreme weather events, over-exploitation of ecosystems, habitat loss, and a lack of public awareness threaten future plant biodiversity. Conservation techniques, such as the creation of seed banks and seed exchanges among farmers, gardeners, and even nations, play an important role in preserving ancient, heirloom varieties of important food crops.

Saving seeds doesn’t only help improve agricultural biodiversity, but helps farmers and researchers find varieties of crops that grow better in different regions, especially as the impacts of climate change become evident. Many farmers groups, non-profits, and governments are conserving crops in their own communities—there are currently more than 1,000 known seed banks, collaboratives, and exchanges around the world.

The Science & Environmental Health Network (SEHN) has been spearheading work on the Rights of Future Generations for the last decade. Future Generation Guardianship is the right and obligation of all people to protect the commonwealth of Earth—and one another—today for the prosperity of Future Generations. SEHN’s dedication and public advocacy to find legal channels for the application of Future Generation Guardianship provides the framework for preserving biodiversity for centuries to come.

Food Tank is honored to collaborate with SEHN by highlighting 15 important seed-saving projects across the globe that are helping preserve global agricultural biodiversity for Future Generations. 

Many of these seed banks are nonprofit organizations, but we would greatly appreciate your recommendations of more public and state-owned banks in the comments below. Many public seed banks are in danger of sale, contamination, and other threats. Because they are such a valuable part of the Commonwealth, the public should be aware of these assets so that they can work to protect the inheritance of Future Generations.

1. AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center

AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty and improving nutrition through extensive research and outreach. AVRDC aims to improve the livelihoods of poor rural and urban households through the creation of more efficient vegetable varieties combined with effective production methods. Headquartered in Shanhua, Tainan City in southern Taiwan, AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center now has over 300 staff members throughout Asia, Africa, Central America, and Oceania. One of AVRDC’s primary programs includes collecting, conserving, and distributing germplasms, samples of tissue from plants. Now the world’s largest public vegetable germplasm collection, the AVRDC Genebank holds more than 59,500 different germplasms from 156 countries. The AVRDC Vegetable Genetic Resources Information System (AVGRIS) is a database containing information about the germplasm collections.

2. Camino Verde

Camino Verde is a United States-based nonprofit with locations in Concord, Massachusetts and Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Camino Verde’s mission is to plant trees and encourage future planting through educational programs and public awareness. The initiative’s Living Seed Bank acts as a botanical garden with over 250 tree species, protects endangered varieties, and provides an arena for further research into multi-species agroforestry systems. Camino Verde has planted over 70 different fruit trees, 40 flowering species, and enough trees to cover seven hectares of land.

3. Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago (GLBC) Seed Saving Initiative

The Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago Seed Saving Initiative was created in 2012 out of the Chicago Bioneers Conference, where Vandana Shiva challenged audience members to begin their own local seed saving projects. The GLBC mission states that “this project is to honor and elevate the work of seed saving for the purposes of protecting and expanding the non-GMO native and edible seed saving projects.” The initiative aims to expand by holding local and regional events to bring seed savers together to exchange and store regional varieties.

4. Hawai’i Public Seed Initiative 

The Hawai’i Public Seed Initiative (HPSI), created by The Kohala Center and funded by the Ceres Trust, assists Hawaiian farmers by holding workshops to educate them about storing and improving their seed varieties. HPSI also organizes seed exchange events, bringing farmers together to trade varieties from different parts of Hawai’i. HPSI’s goal is to build knowledge of seeds through improved communication and information, and to preserve the diversity of home gardens.

5. International Center for Tropical Agriculture

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), a member of CGIAR, is dedicated to “reduc[ing] hunger and poverty, and improv[ing] human health in the tropics through research aimed at increasing the eco-efficiency of agriculture.” Headquartered in western Colombia, CIAT’s high quality research focuses on developing techniques, technologies, and methods to enhance eco-efficiency in agriculture primarily for small farmers. CIAT conducts crop research with its extensive genebank, which holds 65,000 crop samples from all of CIAT’s regional offices in Kenya, Vietnam, Honduras, and Nicaragua. CIAT aims to alter legislation and supply information from their research on issues of climate change, farmers’ market access, and gender equity.

6. Louisiana Native Plant Initiative

The Louisiana Natural Resources Conservation Service began the Louisiana Native Plant Initiative to collect seeds, preserve native varieties, increase flora abundance, and research plant materials for future revegetation projects. Louisiana is home to a plethora of endangered varieties of plants such as the longleaf pine, switchgrass, big bluestem, and partridge pea. The initiative has spearheaded several new conservation projects combining public and private managers in order to release native plants for commercial production.

7. Man and the Biosphere Programme

Launched in 1971 under the supervision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB Programme) aims to conserve biological resources by improving the relationship between humans and the environment and researches the effects that human activity and climate change have on the biosphere. Today, with the help of the MAB Programme, there are 621 biosphere reserves categorized in 117 different countries. The MAB Programme utilizes international, regional, and sub-regional partnerships to increase their global intelligence work.

8. Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, started by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is the largest plant conservation project in the world.  Since 2000, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has saved over 10 percent of the world’s wild plant species at their location in Wakehurst, England. The seed bank has one billion seeds from 130 different partnering countries. Similar to other seed banks, each seed is duplicated and the replica remains in the home country of origin. Kew’s long-term goal is to house seeds from 25 percent of the world’s bankable plants by 2020. Researchers at the seed bank can test centuries-old plants for medicinal purposes, assess horticultural value, and produce more seeds to increase global biodiversity.

9. Native Seed / SEARCH 

Native Seed / SEARCH (NS/S) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to seed conservation in the Southwest United States and Northwest Mexico. Based in Tucson, Arizona, NS/S has grown to acquire a state-of-the art conservation facility, over 2,000 varieties of aridland-adapted seeds, and a reputation as a leader in heirloom conservation. Their seed bank currently houses varieties of traditional crops such as corn, beans, and squash once used by the Apache, Havasupai, Hopi, Maricopa, Mayo, and many other tribes. NS/S aims to maintain the genetic purity of these traditional, wild strands of crops. In order to conduct further research and education workshops, NS/S purchased a conservation farm in 1997 to continue to build public awareness about the importance of biodiversity. Finally, NS/S started a significant conservation effort in the northern part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua to protect the threatened and biologically diverse ecosystem of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

10. Navdanya 

Navdanya is a research-based initiative founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist. Navdanya, meaning “nine seeds” in Hindi, saves endangered seed varieties through its seed vault, and provides support for local farmers. They also conduct research on sustainable farming practices at their own organic farm in Uttarakhand, North India. Navdanya has collected roughly 5,000 crop varieties, primarily staples such as rice, wheat, millet, kidney beans, and medicinal plants. Navdanya’s outreach program has established 111 additional seed banks in 17 Indian states. Navdanya has also created a learning center, Bija Vidyapeeth in Doon Valley, Uttarakhand. Bija Vidyapeeth offers courses on biodiversity protection, agroecological practices, water conservation, and more.

11. New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative 

In 2008, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR), in partnership with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), started the New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative in an effort to promote and conserve diverse native plant species. Launched with 34 endangered species, the initiative hopes to preserve New York City’s biodiversity and generate awareness surrounding the conservation of urban plant varieties. DPR and BBG use their research on endangered plants to create new management strategies in the interest of promoting future biodiversity in the city. Additionally, the New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative has a growing list of all native plant species in the city, which is used to develop seed transfer zones without diminishing the genetic fitness of the native plants.

12. The NSW Seedbank

The NSW Seedbank began in 1986 as an initiative to collect wild seeds for the Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan. Over the last three decades, the seed bank has grown to save and preserve Australian native and threatened plant species. After a major upgrade in 1999 and creating a partnership with the Millennium Seed Bank in 2003, the NSW Seedbank launched a range of horticultural research projects in their on-site laboratory. NSW Seedbank now documents 600 threatened plant species and 81 threatened ecological communities.

13. Seed Savers Exchange 

Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. SSE’s mission is to “conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for Future Generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.” Headquartered in Decorah, Iowa, Seed Savers Exchange began in 1975 and its seed bank is now one of the largest in North America. Individuals and organizations become members of the seed bank and SSE facilitates communication and exchange of seeds among members. Aside from their primary seed bank location at Heritage Farm in Decorah, SSE also maintains seed banks at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. SSE also offers services to nonmembers through the sale of more than 600 heirloom varieties.

14. Slow Food International

Slow Food International is a movement that began in the mid-1980s to give individuals an alternative to fast food and fast lives. Slow Food International believes in “neo-gastronomy,” or the recognition of the strong connections between plate, planet, people, and culture, and has more than 100,000 members in 150 countries. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity was created in 2003 as a subcategory of their Terra Madre initiative to increase and preserve food biodiversity.  The Foundation’s Ark of Taste program collects regionally and culturally significant food products to catalogue and promote their global consumption. Their goal is to preserve history and traditions relating to food products around the world. So far, 1,200 products have been catalogued internationally, including the Pampin Mamey Sapote, native to Central America. Many national and local Slow Food organizations have begun their own seed saving initiatives to preserve heirloom varieties.

15. Svalbard Global Seed Vault 

CGIAR and conservationist Cary Fowler founded the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in 2008. The vault, also known as the “doomsday vault,” rests approximately 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) south of the North Pole. Seeds are stored in permafrost conditions, approximately -18 degrees Celsius, to ensure preservation. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault acts as a sort of insurance policy for other seed banks around the world, only accessing the seeds if the original is destroyed. The Seed Vault can hold up to 2.25 billion seeds in total, equaling 500 seeds of some 4.5 million crop varieties. Priority for space in the vault is given to seeds that can ensure food production and sustainable agriculture, and the collection is primarily composed of seeds from developing countries. The seed vault is managed by the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.

by Danielle Nierenberg and Delaney Workman
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