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Reaping what we sow
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Farmer creates heart-shaped meadow in memory of wife - Telegraph

Farmer creates heart-shaped meadow in memory of wife  - Telegraph | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A devoted farmer created this touching heart-shaped meadow as a tribute to his late wife - by planting thousands of oak trees.

 

Dedicated Winston Howes, 70, spent a week planting each oak sapling after his wife of 33 years Janet died suddenly 17 years ago.

 

He laid out the fledgling trees in a six-acre field but left a perfect heart shape in the middle - with the point facing in the direction of her childhood home.

 

The labour of love has now blossomed into a mature meadow - a peaceful oasis where Winston can sit and remember his wife of 33 years.

 

His meadow cannot be seen from the road and has remained a family secret until a hot air balloonist took this photograph from the air.

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Wild orchids thrive at expense of crops as rains cause harvests to fail

Wild orchids thrive at expense of crops as rains cause harvests to fail | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The appalling summer weather could mean UK food prices rise in the wake of failing harvests – but some of the countryside is filled with splendour...

 

The winemakers' woes are being shared by many other fruit and vegetable producers across the UK. ...

 

"What is unique this year is that it's not just one crop – it's across the board," Rachael Gillbanks, the National Farmers Union's regional representative, told the York Press. "One strawberry grower I spoke to near York said he had lost 80% of his crop. We just aren't getting the sunlight." ...

 

Dairy farmers claim conditions are among the most challenging of the past 70 years, while arable farmers say if the wet weather continues through to August this year's harvest will be poor.

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What's in Your Beef? A Lot of Antibiotics, Says Food Industry Survey - Forbes

What's in Your Beef? A Lot of Antibiotics, Says Food Industry Survey - Forbes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Last week, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York released the results from a survey of over 60 fast food, retail, production and grocery companies asking them about their policies on the use of antibiotics in meat and poultry production.

 

The goal of the survey was to evaluate their level of transparency about antibiotic use and to reveal to consumers the extent to which antibiotics are used in their food.

 

“Through my survey, the food industry has provided us valuable information, and with that knowledge we must act,” said Rep. Slaughter in a press release. “I urge consumers to consider today’s findings when shopping, and I urge the FDA and my colleagues in Congress to strengthen our laws in order to fight the growing threat of superbugs. Until we do, the routine use of antibiotics will continue to breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten human health.”

 

See the article for the presentation of the colour coding.

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High levels of iron in water may hurt dairy products - Phys.Org

High levels of iron in water may hurt dairy products - Phys.Org | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Cows are thirsty and with good reason — they need to drink nearly 30 gallons of water a day to produce milk and stay healthy. That water needs to be high quality because much of the ingested water becomes milk, which is 87 percent water. But high levels of minerals in water due to shortages can be problematic for cows.

 

Virginia Tech is leading research into how excess amounts of iron and other minerals can impact dairy cow productivity and health, nutrient digestibility, milk synthesis, and the quality of dairy products.

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Current Events: Food crisis looms as importers sit out grain price highs

Current Events: Food crisis looms as importers sit out grain price highs | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

What looks to be the worst U.S. drought in a quarter of a century has given rise to an old-fashioned commodity rally on world markets, with key grain prices hitting highs which caused food crises in vulnerable parts of the globe last time around.

 

Seeking to protect their populations from hunger this time, many countries relying heavily on imports have held off for now, touting healthy stock levels and hoping other sources will come through and bring prices down.

 

But their hopes may be dashed if they all return to market at once.

 

With so much of the world putting faith in a record U.S. corn crop, it is little wonder that prices have surged around 40 percent in the past three weeks as relentless dry weather melted yield expectations for cereals. Soybeans are at record highs, while wheat is not far behind.

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Got milk? Climate change means stressed cows in southern U.S. may have less — University of Washington

Got milk? Climate change means stressed cows in southern U.S. may have less — University of Washington | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
UW researchers found that the decline in milk production due to climate change will vary across the U.S., since there are significant differences in humidity and how much the temperature swings between night and day across the country.

 

Bauman and colleagues found that the decline in milk production due to climate change will vary across the U.S., since there are significant differences in humidity and how much the temperature swings between night and day across the country. For instance, the humidity and hot nights make the Southeast the most unfriendly place in the country for dairy cows.

 

Their study combined high-resolution climate data and county-level dairy industry data with a method for figuring out how weather affects milk production. The result is a more detailed report than previous studies and includes a county-by-county assessment -- that will be available to farmers -- of the impact climate change will have on Holstein milk production in the U.S. through 2080.

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Worst Plague in 30 Years: Field Mice Overrun Farms in Central Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Worst Plague in 30 Years: Field Mice Overrun Farms in Central Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Millions of field mice are overrunning the central German states of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, much to the concern of local farmers. The rodents are devastating food crops, cutting yields by up to 50 percent.

 

Under normal circumstances, you might think the 12-centimeter (5-inch) long field mouse looks innocent, or even cute. But farmers in the central German states of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt wouldn't agree at the moment. The furry rodents are currently wreaking havoc in the states, which are suffering the worst field mouse plague in over 30 years.

 

Farmers in Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt are complaining that millions of field mice are devastating their food crops, including corn, barley and winter wheat. "They are eating everything," said Matthias Krieg, who manages an agricultural firm near the town of Zeitz in Saxony-Anhalt. "Not even the sugar beets are safe." Farmers estimate that they may have to write off an average of 10 percent of their crops as a result of mouse damage, and up to 50 percent in extreme cases.

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The Sky Hive Is a Towering High Rise for Bees in Downtown Maastricht

The Sky Hive Is a Towering High Rise for Bees in Downtown Maastricht | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Bee Collective’s Sky Hive is a towering yellow urban beehive located in downtown Maastricht. The prototype was created to help support urban beekeeping, while keeping the bees safely out of reach from passersby. The adjustable beehive stands atop a tall pole, creating a presence at a public park, while being far enough away to mitigate fears of bee stings.

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Organically Grown Corn Outperforms Non-Organic in Drought Conditions

Organically Grown Corn Outperforms Non-Organic in Drought Conditions | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
It all comes down to the fact that organically-managed soils store more carbon and hold more water.

 

Another stat you should remember regarding organic farming, and apropos of heatwaves and drought: According toRodale Institute's long-running side-by-side trials of organic and non-organic farming, in conditions of drought organic corn yields were 31% higher than non-organic.

As for why, over at Mother Jones, Tom Philpott gives thorough detail on the subject, but the quick version is this: It comes down to the differences in soil managed through chemical fertilizers versus those managed organically.

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British farmers told to grow curry ingredients for sustainability

British farmers told to grow curry ingredients for sustainability | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Growing ingredients for Indian curries such as chickpeas for pakoras as well as a range of exotic herbs and spices would open up new markets for British farmers and reduce dependence on imports, according to government report into how the agricultural sector can operate more sustainably in future. Growing more curry ingredients domestically could also potentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from food imports.

 

By examining the problems facing the UK's food production and countryside through key sectors and foods including curries, breads and dairy products, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is hoping to improve food systems at a time when they are coming under increasing threat. The Green Food Project report says that major changes must be made to agriculture, food processing and retailing, if price rises are to be kept in check and the natural environment preserved.

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Current Events: Dry skies threaten US corn crop as heat wave breaks

Current Events: Dry skies threaten US corn crop as heat wave breaks | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

 The withering U.S. corn crop is gaining some respite from a record heat wave this week but new weather forecasts offered scant signs of the rainfall it urgently needs to avoid the worst drought damage in nearly a quarter century.

 

As the majority of a near-record-size U.S. corn area is now set to enter the key phase of pollination, a period when hot and dry conditions can cause irrevocable damage, the lack of moisture threatens to extend a rally that has already propelled corn prices more than a third higher since mid-June.

 

"It is dry across much of the Midwest and Plains and there is no relief in sight," said Alan Reppert, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.com. He said the most affected areas were from Iowa to Illinois, the heart of the Corn Belt.

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Sustainability of Rice Landscapes in South East Asia Threatened - Science Daily (press release)

Sustainability of Rice Landscapes in South East Asia Threatened - Science Daily (press release) | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

During a meeting in Banaue, The Philippines, scientists from 21 research institutions from Germany, Vietnam, The Philippines, Thailand, UK, Bulgaria and Spain raised several concerns on the future of the rice ecosystems in South East Asia. The meeting was organized within the framework of the international project LEGATO that deals with the multiple risks for rice ecosystems arising from various aspects of global change.

 

"Threats to sustainable rice production are diverse and come from different directions. Global change is a very important threat, but certainly not the only one. Human mistakes and political neglect can be even more dangerous," said Dr Joachim Spangenberg from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany.

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NEW CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE ADOPTED FROM ZAMBIA ...

NEW CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE ADOPTED FROM ZAMBIA ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

 Numerous Interventions have been designed to protect the environment in Uganda. But conservation agriculture is being considered as well. This is where the farmer tills the ground without turning over the soil, preserving the environment in the process and raising domestic incomes. A few model farmers in 10 districts have taken up the new system, which was adopted from Zambia, where it has been highly successful.

 

Conservation Agriculture is being implemented under the Conservation Agriculture Regional Program (CARP) funded by the Royal Norwegian Government ...

 

 

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The problem with India’s food management system

The problem with India’s food management system | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Grow it, store it, forget it... This seems to be the motto of India's food management system. Here's what is going wrong, its consequences, and some suggestions ...

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97 Percent Of Michigan's Tart Cherry Crop Destroyed By Weather

97 Percent Of Michigan's Tart Cherry Crop Destroyed By Weather | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Walk into Cherry Republic's store in the heart of the nation's biggest tart cherry producing region, and you could end up with jam or salsa with fruit that had to be imported from Poland.

 

Cherry Republic can't get enough tart cherries from its local orchards because 97 percent of Michigan's crop was destroyed this year by a freak weather pattern. An unseasonably warm March that caused trees to bud was followed by an April freeze that killed the blossoms.

 

Trees in New York and Wisconsin, which have smaller but still significant tart cherry harvests, suffered the same weather damage.

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Lower corn crop yields could mean higher food prices

Lower corn crop yields could mean higher food prices | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Drought conditions and high temperatures that have seared crops across the Midwest could mean higher prices soon for grocery products containing corn, and meat could be more expensive next year.


Persisting drought conditions have endangered corn fields in western Kentucky and other parts of the nation.

The Department of Agriculture on Wednesday dropped the estimated average U.S. corn yield by 20 bushels per acre, from 166 to 146, and blamed "scarce rainfall coupled with record-breaking temperatures." It said conditions are the worst since 1988. Lower soybean yields also were predicted.


Smaller harvests mean higher prices. The forecast sent December prices for corn up as much as 30 cents to $7.48 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. The USDA predicted the corn harvest will total 12.97 billion bushels, down 12% from a month ago. It still would be the third-largest on record.

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Innovation of the Week: Small Plot Intensive Farming

Innovation of the Week: Small Plot Intensive Farming | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Earlier this year Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, submitted a report arguing that agroecological farming methods “outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production,” particularly in developing countries where access to resources is limited. Practicing this low-input, diversified farming style on a small scale has been gaining popularity in the U.S. in recent decades due, in part, to rising fuel and land prices. Farming intensively on tiny acreages, particularly in urban areas, may offer a sustainable solution to many of the U.S. food system’s ills.

 

Small-scale, intensive farming can feed both city dwellers and rural poor, and can offer a sustainable alternative to the large, monoculture farms that dominate agriculture in the United States.

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Organic Is Worth It—and Here's Why | Rodale News

Organic Is Worth It—and Here's Why | Rodale News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The nutritional reasons for eating organic are rock solid, according to research. Add the environmental, economic, and wellness reasons for doing so, it looks like a no-brainer.

 

Mainstream research has linked pesticide exposure to a higher incidence of leukemia, childhood brain tumors, breast cancer, Parkinson's disease, miscarriage, birth defects, diabetes, obesity, developmental problems, and many other ailments.

 

Beyond nutrition, consider these reasons why organic is better for our bodies, the environment, and the economy:-

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Why milk has gone sour: Tasteless, stripped of nutrients and churned out by 'battery cows' who never see a blade of grass

Why milk has gone sour: Tasteless, stripped of nutrients and churned out by 'battery cows' who never see a blade of grass | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Our two pints of silver top would arrive daily on the doorstep, each with a thick band of yellow cream stretching one-third of the way down the bottle - a sure sign that the cows had been grazing up to their hocks in clover-rich grassland.

 

Many dairy farmers, in their bid to drive down costs, now keep their cows off pasture, feeding them instead on high-energy cereals and maize, and on high-protein crops like soya.


Herds are getting bigger, and some farmers are choosing to keep them inside for much of the year or even all of it. US-style mega-dairies — in effect, battery-farmed cows — are now threatened for the British countryside.

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Kent couple Highly Commended in Nature of Farming Award

Kent couple Highly Commended in Nature of Farming Award | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A farming couple from Kent has been praised for their efforts to help wildlife in this year's RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award.

 

Roland and Katrina Brown, of Heart’s Delight Farm, Canterbury, received the Highly Commended award in recognition of the exceptional conservation work they have done to benefit all forms of wildlife across their scarce farmland habitats managed in time-honored fashion.

 

Dr. Brown said: “Our main habitats at Heart’s Delight Farm are species rich grassland with mature hedgerows, ancient woodland and a small traditionally managed orchard. “In the orchard and woodland, we recognized their wildlife value and increasing scarcity of these habitats. We saw the opportunity to restore them to sustainable productivity via their traditional management patterns.

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French cows reared on fine wine - Telegraph

French cows reared on fine wine  - Telegraph | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
French cows are enjoying up to two bottles of high quality wine every day as farmers attempt to produce the best beef in Europe.

 

Jean-Charles Tastavy, who came up with the idea, said the two Angus and one Camargue were initially fed the wine in a mix of barley, hay and grapes. It soon became clear that they were 'happy cows' who ended up producing an exceptionally succulent meat.

 

Outlining how he encouraged the cows to enjoy a tipple, Mr Tastavy said: "For each animal, alcohol intake should be equivalent to the amount recommended by health authorities for a man – namely two or three glasses of wine a day. In the case of cows, this amounts to between a litre and a litre-and-a-half a day."

 

Laurent Pourcel, a Michelin-starred chef, is among those enthusing about the 'luxury meat' saying: "It has a very special texture – beautiful, marbled and tender, and which caramelises during cooking. All the best Parisien restaurants will take it."

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Five Ways to Get Rid of Pests Without Using Chemicals

Five Ways to Get Rid of Pests Without Using Chemicals | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Pests can be, well, a pest. They infest crops and reduce yields, reducing overall agricultural production and food security. To deal with pests, such as mealybugs or spider mites, most farmers use chemical pesticides which can impact health, pollute water supplies through runoff, and, if pesticides are misused or overused, can actually kill plants. Finding new methods to get rid of pests without requiring chemical inputs has increasingly become a priority for many farmers.

 

Implementing these methods can save crops from destructive pests without the need for harmful pesticides. 


Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five crop management methods that control pests without using chemical pesticides.

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Continental US breaks heat record in first half of 2012

Continental US breaks heat record in first half of 2012 | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON-Scorching temperatures in June's second half helped continental U.S. break its record for the hottest first six months in a calendar year.

 

Scorching temperatures in June's second half helped the continental United States break its record for the hottest first six months in a calendar year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Monday. The last 12 months also have been the warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1895, narrowly beating the previous 12-month period that ended in May 2012.

 

Every state except Washington in the contiguous United States had warmer-than-average temperatures for the June 2011-June 2012 period.

 

The recent blistering heat wave broke records across much of the United States, threatening the Midwest's corn crop and helping to fan destructive wildfires. ...

 

A broader look at global weather conditions for 2011 by U.S. and British scientists is set for release on Tuesday by NOAA and the United Kingdom's Met Office.

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Sustainable Agriculture: Post RIO+20 Opportunities for the SAI Platform & Coca ... - Forbes

Sustainable Agriculture: Post RIO+20 Opportunities for the SAI Platform & Coca ... - Forbes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

One of the hot topics at the recent Rio+20 Conference was sustainable agriculture. It is a topic that is particularly important to Dr Ernesto Brovelli who is the Senior Manager, Sustainable Agriculture at The Coca-Cola Company and also the new President of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform.

 

I asked him about his views on Rio+20, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity at both Coca-Cola and the SAI Platform.

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High rents sparking 'quarry farming' - 7/7/2012 - Farmers Weekly

High rents sparking 'quarry farming' - 7/7/2012 - Farmers Weekly | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

... the issue of short-termism that surrounds FBTs is not just one of money and neighbourly relationships. It is breeding a culture that drives a coach and horses through the first commandment of farming. Thou should pass on one's land to the next generation in a better condition than it was received. Stories of "quarry farming" are rife; the premise being that you pay a high land rent, and in return you scavenge the soil for every available nutrient on offer, leaving nothing behind.

 

Organic matter depletion is a major concern for UK farming. Shorter-term FBTs will perpetuate this and give no incentive to the incoming tenant to invest in the soil's heart.

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