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The Barley Mow
Reaping what we sow
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Urban Agriculture | part six | Sheffield and Nottingham «

Urban Agriculture | part six | Sheffield and Nottingham « | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Grow Sheffield was born out the UK’s first ever ‘Abundance’ fruit harvesting project. It now acts as an umbrella over that and two other projects – community growing and a local food network. Art is a big part of what they do and ‘Allotment Soup’ is a series of events they run every year, as Coralie explains.

 

“We bring artists onto allotments and invite them to make installations. We then hold gallery style open days, where there’s always soup and a fire. It’s about showing allotments in a new light. We don’t want to just preach to the converted. We need to give people new ways in. I come from an environmental background and I know some people can be switched off by green hectoring. Grow Sheffield was attractive to me because its approach felt different and fresh.”

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Genetically Modified Canola Found Growing Wild in Switzerland, Even Though It's Banned There

Genetically Modified Canola Found Growing Wild in Switzerland, Even Though It's Banned There | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Greenpeace sums up the threat:

 

GE canola is mainly cultivated commercially in Canada and in the US, where it has contaminated non-GE canola. In fact, herbicide tolerant GE crops are generally causing havoc for farmers that face new problems with superweeds. [...] GE canola contamination is already spreading in the European Union, even though it has not been approved for commercial cultivation in the EU. If released into the environment, the germination of canola seeds cannot be contained. A Swedish study has also shown that GE canola seeds could survive and be viable for germination even 10 years after their release into the wild.


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Harmful estrogens persist in dairy wastewater - Zee News

Harmful estrogens persist in dairy wastewater - Zee News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Zee NewsHarmful estrogens persist in dairy wastewaterZee NewsWashington: Wastewater from large dairy farms contains significant concentrations of estrogens, also known as feminizing hormones, that can persist for months or even years, says a study.

 

In the absence of oxygen, estrogens rapidly convert from one form to another; this stalls their biodegradation and complicates efforts to detect them, the researchers found.

The study, led by Wei Zhen from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is the first to document the unusual behaviour of estrogens in wastewater lagoons, the journal Environmental Science & Technology reported.

 

Hormones that end up in surface or groundwater could contaminate sources of drinking water for humans, Zheng said. "The estrogens may also be taken up by plants - a potential new route into the food chain," he added, according to a university statement.

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Get Inspired: Tour an Urban Farm (or Two or Six) - East Bay Express (blog)

Get Inspired: Tour an Urban Farm (or Two or Six) - East Bay Express (blog) | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Viewed from the street, Blume’s modest pistachio-green house is unremarkable in appearance — a bit cheerier-looking than its neighbors, perhaps. But walk through a side gate and the yard opens up to a garden lover’s dream: flowers everywhere you look, eighteen perfectly pruned fruit trees, and so many different kinds of edible green things — growing on the ground, along the fence, in planters, and up wire support frames — I couldn’t write fast enough to get them all down. (There were tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers, lettuce, summer and winter squash, artichokes, asparagus, tree collards, hops, six types of berries, at least 20 types of medicinal plants — the list went on and on).


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Farming on the Campus Quad

Farming on the Campus Quad | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Grassy quadrangles are staples on most college campuses. But maybe all that soil can be put to a different use: a handful of colleges and universities have planted small student-run farms on formerly grassy areas in recent years. This seems to raise the broader question of whether the quad, which gobbles water and fertilizer but produces very little, is outmoded in an era of sustainable thinking.

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Save and grow - A new paradigm of agriculture

Save and grow - A new paradigm of agriculture | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

This new paradigm of agriculture is sustainable crop production intensification (SCPI), which can be summed up in the words “save and grow”. Sustainable intensification means a productive agriculture that conserves and enhances natural resources. It uses an ecosystem approach that draws on nature’s contribution to crop growth – soil organic matter, water flow regulation, pollination and natural predation of pests – and applies appropriate external inputs at the right time, in the right amount.

 

"Save and grow” farming systems offer proven productivity, economic and environmental benefits. A review of agricultural development in 57 low-income countries found that ecosystem farming led to average yield increases of almost 80 percent. Conservation agriculture, which is practised on more than 100 million hectares worldwide, contributes to climate change mitigation by sequestering in soil millions of tonnes of carbon a year.

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Regina environmental committee decides against pesticide ban - News Talk 980 CJME

Regina environmental committee decides against pesticide ban - News Talk 980 CJME | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Bad news for dandelions, good news for people who want to use pesticides on their lawns in Regina.

 

A committee that advises Regina city council on the environment has cooled on the idea of a city-wide cosmetic pesticide ban.

 

Cosmetic pesticide is the term used to describe non-essential lawn chemicals used to make the grass look better.

 

Environmental groups argue they are harmful to the environment and have been linked to cancer.

 

The committee says it heard from business people worried about how the ban might affect the local lawn-care industry.

 

Others argue that a cosmetic pesticide bylaw would be too difficult to enforce. They also contend it would be an infringement on people's personal choice.

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High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty... | UCSUSA

High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty... | UCSUSA | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Though the mid-2000's saw a surge in field trials for crop varieties with engineered drought tolerance traits, as of 2012 only one such variety—Monsanto's DroughtGard, containing the engineered gene cspB—had been approved by the USDA.

 

The results so far paint a less than spectacular picture of DroughtGard's effectiveness: USDA analysis of data supplied by Monsanto show that DroughtGard produces only modest results, and only under moderate drought conditions at that. The report estimates that cspB corn would increase the overall productivity of the U.S. corn crop by only about one percent. And DroughtGard does not improve water use efficiency.

 

The evidence suggests that alternatives to GE—classical breeding, improved farming practices, or crops naturally more drought-tolerant than corn, such as sorghum and millet—can produce better results, often at lower cost. If we neglect these alternatives because of exaggerated expectations about the benefits of GE, we risk leaving farmers and the public high and dry when it comes to ensuring that we will have enough food and clean freshwater to meet everyone's needs.

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Fighting Hunger With Ancient Genetic Engineering Techniques | Agriculture | DISCOVER Magazine

Fighting Hunger With Ancient Genetic Engineering Techniques | Agriculture | DISCOVER Magazine | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

It may not have the flair of genetic engineering, but the breeding technique perfected by Howarth Bouis and HarvestPlus has the advantage of actually supplying the developing world with several nutrient-rich crops. Below, a sampling of the improved foods that will soon help fight malnourishment.


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Mars Chocolate to purchase nearly 90000 metric tons of cocoa this year - Warren Reporter

Mars Chocolate to purchase nearly 90000 metric tons of cocoa this year - Warren Reporter | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Mars Chocolate, one of the world’s leading chocolate manufacturers, announced today that it has made significant progress in just three years towards fulfilling its 2009 pledge to purchase its entire cocoa supply from certified sustainable sources by 2020. The company stated that it had met its 2011 goal of purchasing 10 percent of its total cocoa supply as certified sustainable, and in 2012 it will exceed its original target of 20 percent, making it the largest user of certified cocoa in the world. Based on current buying arrangements, the company projects that they will purchase nearly 90,000 tons of certified cocoa.

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Growing Cities: A film about Urban Farming in America

GROWING CITIES follows two friends on their trip cross-country as they meet urban farmers who are challenging the way we eat.

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FDA rejects new name for high-fructose corn syrup

FDA rejects new name for high-fructose corn syrup | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
High-fructose corn syrup won't get a wholesome new name after all.

 

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday rejected the Corn Refiners Association's bid to rename its sweetening agent "corn sugar."


Given the sweetener's bad reputation in recent years, the association submitted an application to the agency in 2010 to have the product renamed on nutrition labels.
But the FDA said that it defines sugar as a solid, dried and crystallized food — not a syrup.

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Union: the British perfume that's boosting biodiversity - The Ecologist

Union: the British perfume that's boosting biodiversity - The Ecologist | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Union: the British perfume that's boosting biodiversityThe EcologistEvery now and again, an idea comes along that's so good, you wonder why no one has ever thought of doing it before.

 

According to Michael Donovan, PR supremo and part of the team behind new, quintessentially British perfume brand Union, it’s because it’s simply too difficult. On the face of it, the Union concept doesn’t seem ridiculously hard – a British perfume that contains ingredients that come entirely from UK shores – but according to Donovan, to say it’s been a challenge is nothing less than an understatement.

 

‘No other brand has ever done this,’ he says. ‘It’s totally unique but it’s been hugely challenging.’ The main reason for this, he explains, is that not only is it impossible to find commercial sources for many British flowers, fruit and leaves, others, English bluebells for instance, have necessitated completely new techniques. 

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Exclusive: undercover inside the US dairy industry

With planning permission for Britain's biggest dairy at Nocton about to be re-submitted, The Ecologist travels to California to examine intensive milk production - and finds factory farms, conflict, intimidation, pesticides, pollution and small-scale farmers driven out of business...

 

Read the full investigation here http://www.theecologist.org/trial_investigations/604210/span_stylecolor_redun..


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Professor David Montgomery: Our Disappearing Dirt | Organic Connections

Professor David Montgomery: Our Disappearing Dirt | Organic Connections | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Geology professor and author David Montgomery talks with us about dirt. We all depend on it, but we’re losing soil rapidly. What’s causing it to disappear and what can we do about it?

 

Global warming, polluted water and air, vanishing rainforests and animal species—our plates are full of worry for the environment. Yet a growing movement wants our attention, concern and action focused on something right under our feet—dirt. Why? We’ve lost about one-third of the world’s topsoil and most of that loss has taken place in the last 50 years.

 

Modern agriculture’s rampant use of pesticides and plows is destroying the quality, and quantity, of the planet’s soil. The bottom line: without fertile soil, we cannot produce the food necessary to live. The scary number: we could be out of fertile soil in the next 100 years.

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Farmers to reap severe consequences for illegal pesticides - The Copenhagen Post

Farmers to reap severe consequences for illegal pesticides - The Copenhagen Post | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

There has been a fierce political reaction in the wake of revelations that criminal importers are supplying Danish farmers with illegal pesticides and fertiliser that harm the environment and ground water.

 

The environment minister, Ida Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti) said that she finds it completely unreasonable that some farmers are partaking in activity that compromises the environment, ecosystem and the public’s health. ...

 

At the heart of the illegal pesticide trade is a business connection in the Djursland region of Jutland. Through the connection in Djursland, over 13,900 tonnes of fertiliser and 45 tonnes of pesticides were imported into Denmark between the years of 2006 and 2009, including the banned herbicides Isoproturon and Butisan Top.

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Hawaii To Regulate Pesticides in Waterways - Honolulu Civil Beat

Hawaii To Regulate Pesticides in Waterways - Honolulu Civil Beat | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

State health officials are setting new rules for the regulation of pesticides after a federal court ruled that the chemicals fall under the Clean Water Act when they enter waterways.

 

But critics say recently released draft rules aren’t strict enough and that stakeholders, such as the farming lobby, may have had undue influence in crafting them.

A court ruled in favor of the National Cotton Council in 2009, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency's rule excluding pesticides from regulation under the Clean Water Act was not a reasonable interpretation of federal law. As a result, companies such as Alexander & Baldwin, which sprays pesticides in irrigation ditches to control weeds, and state land officials, who use chemicals to kill invasive species, must now obtain a federal permit. And the state must come up with rules that regulate it.

 

A meeting called by state officials on Monday to hear public input was largely a battle between farming interests, including Alexander & Baldwin and Monsanto, that pushed to ease the rules, and environmental groups seeking to make them more stringent.

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Super farms are needed in UK, says leader of National Farmers Union

Super farms are needed in UK, says leader of National Farmers Union | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The president of the National Farmers Union believes the UK needs more and bigger "super farms" to keep food prices from rising too high and to maintain high animal welfare standards.

 

Peter Kendall gave his views as figures reportedly showed that the lack of farmland in Britain was now as acute as the shortfall in China.

 

Proposals for the first livestock farms that would breed thousands of animals have been dubbed mega farms by critics who claim they will create mass herds in sterile conditions where injuries will go unnoticed, disease will spread quickly and the environment will struggle to cope with the slurry and pollution.

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Organic Farming in a NYC Public School - Huffington Post

Organic Farming in a NYC Public School - Huffington Post | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The organic farm at PS 364, also appropriately named The Earth School, is sponsored by Slow Food NYC and grows kale, collards, cucumbers, peas, hardy kiwi, Newtown Pippin apples, Golden Crisp apples, onions, carrot, stevia, dill, tomatoes, basil, tomatillos, ground cherries, lettuces, mustard greens, peppers, broccoli, eggplant, potatoes, mints, anise hyssop, blueberries, grapes, rhubarb, asparagus, rosemary, thyme, lavender, parsley, cilantro, figs, fennel, raspberries, oregano, and Thai, red, and Genovese basil. I simply could not believe the organic beauties that I discovered after following the students through their secret passage.

 

The organic farm is next to the school's playground, so in one area you can see children at play and in another, children farming, and all of this under a beautiful downtown Manhattan skyline.

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Long-haul food could deliver a national crisis - National Rural News - Agribusiness and General - General - The Land

Long-haul food could deliver a national crisis - National Rural News - Agribusiness and General - General - The Land | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

AUSTRALIANS' growing reliance on food transported long distances on drum-tight distribution schedules has heightened the risk of food shortages in the event of crises such as floods, bushfires and pandemics, a federal government study has found.


The Department of Agriculture report identifies the concentration and lengthening of Australia's supply chain as a food security risk, as communities are increasingly dependent on deliveries of perishable food such as milk, meat, fruit and vegetables, from thousands of kilometres away.

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Rooftop fish farms to feed Germany's sprawling urban population

Rooftop fish farms to feed Germany's sprawling urban population | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Fish farms have proved controversial in the estuaries of north Atlantic salmon rivers and in the Mediterranean, with anglers and environmentalists claiming their byproducts are seriously damaging the natural habitat.

 

But a project in Germany aims to feed growing urban populations by bringing aquaculture into town centres, putting tanks on rooftops and car parks and using the waste to grow vegetables.

 

The idea is simple. Perch swim in metal water tanks and the ammonia they excrete is used to fertilise tomatoes, salad leaves and herbs growing in a greenhouse mounted above. Aquaponic fish and vegetable farms aim to provide a self-contained system designed to provide city dwellers with organic, sustainable locally grown food.

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Cows listening to music give more milk! - Science - Jun 2, 2012 ...

Cows listening to music give more milk! - Science - Jun 2, 2012 ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Having your utter pulled constantly can get a little bit stressful. Sometimes all you need is some nice, classical music to help you relax and “get the juices flowing.” So when farmers play classical or soft music in the cowshed, they receive about 1 extra pint of milk from their cows.

 

Some of the most popular hits are Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over a Troubled Water. Some farmers have even tried using this yield-increasing method on chickens. Supporting this practice is a study carried out by the LCAH Dairies in Linconshire and Bishop Burton Agriculture College in Humberside.

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Knowing What Pesticides Are on Your Food - HealthNewsDigest.com

Knowing What Pesticides Are on Your Food - HealthNewsDigest.com | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

While the website version of “What’s On My Food” is helpful for advance planning, the iPhone app is handy while plying the supermarket produce aisles to help decide whether to go for organic vegetables or stick with the cheaper conventional ones. For instance, the database shows that conventionally grown collard greens likely contains residues of some 46 different chemicals including nine known/probable carcinogens, 25 suspected hormone disruptors, 10 neurotoxins and eight developmental/reproductive toxins—not to mention 25 different compounds known to be harmful to honeybees. Spending a little quality time on the website or app is enough to drive anyone to more organic food purchasing.

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A.M.P.S. and Rouses are taking urban farming to new heights ...

A.M.P.S. and Rouses are taking urban farming to new heights ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
On the roof of the Rouses Market on Baronne Street in downtown New Orleans, an herb garden flourishes. However, you won't find on the market's flat roof a traditional glass green house, soil, or rows of potted planters.

 

Appropriately named The Roots on the Rooftop, the garden is an aeroponic urban farm, the first of its kind in the United States to be built on the roof of a grocery store. The plants grow upward out of soil-less towers rather than horizontally and outward. A constant flow of water, air, and nutrients through the vertical aeroponic Tower Garden allows the herbs to grow twice as fast, while taking up less space

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Study reveals pesticide approval processes don't protect river biodiversity - Phys.Org

Study reveals pesticide approval processes don't protect river biodiversity - Phys.Org | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

he collaborative study from the University of Koblenz-Landau, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (both in Germany), the University of Aarhus (Denmark), and UTS, compared and evaluated data collected between 1998 and 2010 on the effect of pesticides from six different European countries, Siberia and Australia.


Pesticides used in agriculture can be washed into surface water during heavy rain and impair river ecosystems. The main aim of the study was to assess the "effect threshold" of pesticides for organisms in rivers: an effect threshold is the maximum concentration of a substance which doesn't cause an adverse environmental impact.


The researchers concluded that the existing EU evaluation process – which, as in Australia is based on a risk assessment approach – is insufficient to sustainably protect river ecosystems from the effects of pesticides

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