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Reaping what we sow
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Agricultural research funds escape austerity cuts - AlertNet

Agricultural research funds escape austerity cuts - AlertNet | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Price spikes and problems linked with climate change are propelling food security toward the top of government agendas...

 

Public spending on agricultural research is on the rise, despite austerity drives in many countries, as price spikes and problems linked with climate change propel food security towards the top of government agendas, the head of a leading research body said.

"People have realised that feeding the world without destroying the environment is very likely the biggest challenge facing humanity over the next few decades," Frank Rijsberman, chief executive of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers said in a telephone interview.

 

The consortium, whose backers include the World Bank, the United States, Britain and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, supports research targeted for the estimated 500 million smallholder farmers with less than two hectares to work.


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Rainwater Harvesting for Poultry and Goat Microbusinesses in Uganda

Rainwater Harvesting for Poultry and Goat Microbusinesses in Uganda | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Women's cooperative builds rainwater harvesting tanks for Poultry and Goat Micro-businesses in Uganda.

 

Community decision-making can be one of the key factors of success around any water development project. All over the world in communities of need, you’ll find systems that are functioning with ease and in others, the carcass of broken pumps, unused toilets, tanks in disrepair and the list goes on and on. A major contribution to the failure of these systems has been outsiders—not actually living in the community—deciding where to build and what to build, and not offering any local training for the construction, maintenance or repair of imposed systems. The result is that when these foreign systems breakdown, local people don’t have the capacity to repair or revitalize the projects leading to project failure.


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satish's curator insight, May 2, 2013 6:52 AM

महिलांच्या सहकारी तत्त्वावीरल छोट्या उद्योगांनी पाण्याची बचत करण्याचा चांगला प्रयत्न केला आहे. त्यामुळे पाण्याची गरज कमी होण्यासोबतच महिलांच्या आर्थिक उन्नतीला हातभार लागणार आहे. 

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Half-million pigs to be slaughtered in Chile health emergency – This Just In - CNN.com Blogs

Half-million pigs to be slaughtered in Chile health emergency – This Just In - CNN.com Blogs | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A half-million pigs on a Chilean farm will be destroyed after the facility was closed for several days during a dispute with local residents.

 

The events that precipitated the slaughter began this month when villagers from Freirina blockaded the farm after months of protests about foul odors and disease-infested water they said emanated from the farm and its slaughterhouse. The 500,000 pigs went unattended for five days, prompting the Chilean government to declare a sanitary emergency, according to a report from MercoPress.

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The Difference between Conventional Farming and Organic Farming

The Difference between Conventional Farming and Organic Farming | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Conventional non-organic farming typically cost less, but will you end up paying more for it in the end?

 

60 years ago there wasn’t a need for organic foods. Farmers practiced proper treatment of animals and fed livestock natural foods free of pesticides, growth hormones and genetically modified seeds (GMO).

 

Since foods were grown naturally and obtained fresh, we were able to get all the nutrients our body needed from foods. Today the conventional practices of raising livestock and growing crops are not so compassionate towards the treatment of animal, environment or the effects on human consumption.

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Scandal of pedigree cows whose udders are pumped full of gas - then glued up

Scandal of pedigree cows whose udders are pumped full of gas - then glued up | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Farmers desperate to win lucrative cattle show prizes are causing severe pain to their animals – by pumping their udders full of gas.


Experts say the use of the bizarre technique – used to improve a cow’s appearance by making the udder look full – has spiralled to the point it has become a ‘serious problem’.
Once the udder has been inflated, the animal’s teats are then sealed with superglue to stop milk, or the gas, leaking out.

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Leading Agriculture Experts Contribute to new Report Agriculture ...

Leading Agriculture Experts Contribute to new Report Agriculture ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The report begins with identifying the key challenges in the global agriculture industry:

Astonishing levels of food waste at 30-40% of all food.


As many overweight people as undernourished people.


The wasteful impact that livestock and biofuels have on resources due to inefficient management.


Rising food prices that will likely continue within a volatile global market.


Concentration in food supply. With 50,000 edible plants on the planet, a low number of firms produce over half of the world’s food supply from only three plant sources.


Shifting agricultural governance from governments, international agencies and institutions to corporate power and NGOs.


Agriculture uses most fresh water and results in a loss of 20,000 – 50,000 square kilometers potentially productive land.

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How EU farming policies led to a collapse in Europe's bird population

How EU farming policies led to a collapse in Europe's bird population | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In order to boost food production across Europe, the wholesale ripping up of hedgerows, draining of wetlands and ploughing over of meadows has robbed farmland birds of their homes and food. Numbers of linnets, turtle doves and lapwings have crashed as a result.

 

The survey, carried out by the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, also found that Britain has been one of the nations worst affected by losses to its farmland bird populations. For example, in Europe the population of grey partridges has dropped from 13.4 million to 2.4 million, a loss of 82%. In the UK, that loss was 91%.

 

These losses were described as shocking by the scheme's chairman, Richard Gregory. "We had got used to noting a loss of a few per cent in numbers of various species over one or two years. It was only when we added up numbers of all the different farmland bird species for each year since 1980, when we started keeping records, that we found their overall population has dropped from 600 million to 300 million, which is a calamitous loss. We have been sleepwalking into a disaster."

 

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Innovation of the Week: Student Program Connects Consumers to the Food System Process

Innovation of the Week: Student Program Connects Consumers to the Food System Process | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
By Graham Salinger In 2009, the average distance that a granny smith apple traveled to get to McGill University in Quebec, Canada, was nearly 3,542 miles. Meanwhile, the dining halls serve approximately 2,500 meals a day.

 

In an effort to increase the amount of food that is sourced locally, students at McGill University established The McGill Food Systems Project (MFSP). The project, which began in 2009, engages students in the food system process by supporting student-led applied research that helps the University establish best practices for purchasing sustainable food. Collaborating with professors, the McGill Food and Dining Services, and the McGill Office of Sustainability, students conduct research and implement projects that help inform the University about the source of its food.


“The objective of these actions is to transition our food supply to more sustainable and local sources,” explains Laura Rhodes, co-founder of MFSP along with Jonathan Glencross. “We want to build a capacity to meaningfully assess what is or isn’t sustainable food. Our role is to communicate in the sense of building capacity to make sustainable choices,” notes Rhodes, who is currently in charge of making sustainable food purchases for McGill’s dining services.

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Don't Call It 'Dirt': Why Healthy Soil Means Healthy People

Don't Call It 'Dirt': Why Healthy Soil Means Healthy People | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Jack Algiere has no qualms about letting his kids eat their veggies straight out of the ground from the fields and greenhouses he manages in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.

 

Our chemical dependencies are stripping soil of its life-giving duties and turning it into lifeless dirt, the film says. We've destroyed half the world's topsoil in the last 50 years, and a quarter of what's left is degraded. Experts in the film suggest that this loss is contributing to a range of today's ills: flooding, droughts, toxic algae blooms, contaminated drinking water, cancer, developmental problems, antibiotic-resistant infections, obesity and more.

 

"The connection between healthy soil and healthy people is so obvious," said Deborah Koons Garcia, director and producer of the film, which screened last weekend at Stone Barns.

 

So, when and how did we lose sight of such a vital relationship? And can we find it again?

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Flame retardants and farm chemicals could affect our bodies for generations

Flame retardants and farm chemicals could affect our bodies for generations | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Recent investigations of the chemicals in flame retardants are eerily similar to those in some agricultural chemicals. And they both persist in the human body long after we once thought.

 

In a new study [PDF] published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Texas and Washington State University found that exposing rats to the common fungicide vinclozolin (still used by some farmers to control blight) caused changes in physiology, behavior, and metabolic activity in their descendants three generations removed.

 

In other words, it’s affecting the rats’ brains for generations — which leads not just to change in their bodies but in their behaviors, including an increase in anxiety. All from an exposure generations ago. If further research bears this result out, it’s an ominous prospect.

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Vegetables in major HK supermarkets turn up with toxic pesticides

Vegetables in major HK supermarkets turn up with toxic pesticides | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Last week Greenpeace campaigners in Hong Kong published testing results from some of Hong Kong's biggest supermarkets and found illegal pesticides and mixed pesticide use on many fresh produce samples.

 

The scandal was covered on the South China Morning Post.


Almost every vegetable sample taken from major supermarket outlets in a recent survey contained pesticides - in one case seven times over the safety limit - Greenpeace said yesterday.


Eleven of the 12 samples taken from ParknShop, Wellcome and Jusco in February contained residues of various types of pesticides.

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More Farms Vie for the $1 Billion Spent at Farmers' Markets

More Farms Vie for the $1 Billion Spent at Farmers' Markets | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
For decades, Beechwood Orchards in Biglerville, Pa., sold its apples, peaches, and other fruits and veggies to wholesalers, who would then consolidate the produce with shipments from other farms and dispatch it to supermarkets across the region.

 

The number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 2004, to more than 7,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, throwing a lifeline to struggling family farms. Though only about 2 percent of farm sales in the U.S. are retail, the USDA estimates that consumers spent $1 billion at farmers’ markets last year. Growers today “are willing to try new things, new products, interact with customers,” says Nicky Uy, a senior associate at the Food Trust, a Philadelphia nonprofit that runs 26 markets. “It bodes well for the future of small farms, especially near big cities.”

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Revenge of the Weeds | The Scientist

Revenge of the Weeds | The Scientist | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"If the situation wasn’t bad enough already, it appears to be snowballing. Weeds in nine different countries have independently developed resistance to multiple modes of action. Some stubborn survivors can now survive most of the chemicals used by farmers, and the infestations are spreading.

 

Last year, for example, farmers in Iowa reported infestations of waterhemp in their corn and soy fields. The weed has now encroached on 500 acres, and continues to survive treatments of glyphosate and six additional chemicals. The case is a rare example of a weed developing resistance to three chemical classes, each with a unique molecular target. Even more impressive, a biotype of Rigid Ryegrass growing in Victoria, Australia, is now resistant to four chemical classes. Only about 10 acres are impacted so far, but the weeds are predicted to spread."

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Current Events: World can feed more people more efficiently

Current Events: World can feed more people more efficiently | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
MILAN, May 30-The world can feed itself with less food output than previously forecast if it turns to sustainable farming, cuts waste and stops excessive consumption...

 

If current consumption patterns persist, the world will need to raise food output by 60 percent by 2050 from 2005-07 levels to feed a population expected to rise to 9 billion from about 7 billion now, according to FAO estimates. However, it is possible to feed the population with a smaller rise in food output than that, the FAO said in a policy report ahead of a sustainable development summit in Rio de Janeiro.

 

On the production side, agricultural and food systems should reduce their negative environmental impacts, including soil and water depletion as well as greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.

 

On the consumption side, people need to cut food losses and waste which amount to 1.3 billion tonnes a year, roughly one third of world food production for human consumption.

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Urban Agriculture Redefined, Growing Crops In Recycled Shipping Containers - Forbes

Urban Agriculture Redefined, Growing Crops In Recycled Shipping Containers - Forbes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Take an unused parking lot in the middle of downtown Atlanta, Georgia on Ponce de Leon Avenue, put five 320-square foot recycled shipping containers tricked out with proprietary technology to reduce overall energy consumption and increase crop yield and then grow three tons of lettuce, hydroponically.

 

This is exactly what a seed funded start up, PodPonics, did. Then they realized they had a contribution to make to the world’s food shortage with urban agriculture. 

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The cocktail of up to 20 chemicals in a glass of milk

The cocktail of up to 20 chemicals in a glass of milk | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A glass of milk can contain a cocktail of up to 20 painkillers, antibiotics and growth hormones used to treat animals and people, scientists have shown.

 

The researchers say their new 30-minute test is the most sensitive of its kind. If the findings are true for Spanish and Moroccan milk, they could equally be true for milk produced in Britain and northern Europe.

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Japan farmers plant, pray for radiation-free rice - Boston.com

Japan farmers plant, pray for radiation-free rice - Boston.com | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Japan farmers plant, pray for radiation-free riceBoston.comHe's living up to his family's proud, six-generation history of rice farming, and praying that this time his harvest will not have too much radiation to sell.

 

A handful of farmers are giving up on growing rice. Some are switching to flowers, which don't require radiation checks. Others are suing Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operates Fukushima Dai-ichi, for damages.

 

Fukushima farmer Shoichi Watanabe is angry he even has to worry about radiation.

"See how peaceful this place is," he said, pointing to paddies filled with gently croaking frogs. "I want to say at the top of my lungs that we would not be going through all this suffering -- if only Tokyo Electric had done its job right."

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Against factory farming - PriusChat Forums

Against factory farming - PriusChat Forums | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Factory Farming, what is factory farm? - The Issues - Sustainable Table The US really should phase out factory farming.

 

What is a Factory Farm?


The government calls these facilities Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a CAFO as "new and existing operations which stable or confine and feed or maintain for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period more than the number of animals specified" in categories that they list out. In addition, "there's no grass or other vegetation in the confinement area during the normal growing season."

 

Numbers for both large and medium CAFOs (factory farms) are listed on the EPA's site. A large CAFO includes 1000 cattle (other than dairy, which is 700), 2500 hogs over 55 pounds, or 125,000 chickens (as long as a liquid manure system isn't used). A liquid manure system is when the animal's urine and feces are mixed with water and held either under the facility or outside in huge open air lagoons - these manure systems create a lot of pollution (which many times taxpayers end up paying for). The chickens they refer to are chickens other than laying hens – laying hens must number between 30,000 - 82,000, depending on how the manure is handled.

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Common Pesticide Makes Honey Bees Picky Eaters | Care2 Causes

Common Pesticide Makes Honey Bees Picky Eaters | Care2 Causes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A new study offers further evidence about the dangerous effects of pesticides on honey bees. Biologists at the University of California at San Diego have found that a commonly used crop pesticide makes honey bees picky eaters and also makes them reduce the number of waggle dances they perform. Waggle dances are how the bees communicate the location of a food source; bees exposed to the pesticide performed four to ten times fewer dances. ...

 

The chemical in question is imidacloprid, which is a type of neonicotinoid — which has been linked to bees’ deaths. Imidacloprid has come under increasing scrutiny in the US and is banned for use in some crops in some parts of Europe. James Nieh, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who also authored the study, notes in Science Daily that, in 2006, imidacloprid was the sixth most commonly used pesticide in California. Besides being used in agriculture, it is also used in home gradens.

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Factory Farming in America, Part 3: The Environmental Impact of Factory Farming | Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Factory Farming in America, Part 3: The Environmental Impact of Factory Farming | Ian Somerhalder Foundation | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Land: In the US, more than 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to create cropland. The cropland is used grow grain fed to farmed animals. Of all the agricultural land in the US, 80 percent is used to raise animals for food and grow grain to feed them; this is almost half the total land mass of the lower 48 states! Worldwide, a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass is used to raise animals for food; this includes land used for grazing and to grow feed crops.

 

Water: Factory farms use massive amounts of water. It is estimated that nearly half of all the water in the US is used in the process of raising animals for food. It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat and only 25 gallons to produce one pound of wheat. It takes over 4,000 gallons of water to produce a day’s food for one meat-eater compared to 300 gallons for a day’s food for a person who eats a plant-based diet.

 

Crops: In the US, as much as 70 percent of the grain harvest and 80 percent of the corn harvest are fed to livestock and poultry. Approximately two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat. Throughout the world, cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population on Earth.

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Factory Farming in America, Part 5: The Life of a Dairy Cow | Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Factory Farming in America, Part 5: The Life of a Dairy Cow | Ian Somerhalder Foundation | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"When we hear the word “dairy,” many of us picture a large red barn, gentle rolling hills covered in bright green grass, and cows grazing in the countryside, enjoying the sunshine and a gentle breeze. The media and the dairy industry perpetuate this myth by bombarding us with images of happy cows in California. The truth is that the majority of the dairy products in this country come from cows that are raised in a factory farming environment, where they rarely see the light of day and they suffer from chronic health problems caused by the way the industry operates."

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Urban Agriculture Part I: What Cuba Can Teach Us

Urban Agriculture Part I: What Cuba Can Teach Us | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Using Cuba as its example, the article explores how design must make alternative food systems visible before they can be viable.

 

In the 1990s, in the face of a massive food shortage, the citizens of Havana did the only thing they could – take their lives into their own hands. On balconies, terraces, backyards, and empty lots, neighbors began planting beans, tomatoes, bananas – anything they could, anywhere they could. In the span of two years, there were gardens and farms in every neighborhood in Havana.

 

The government took notice, and instead of squelching these efforts, facilitated them. In 1994, the newly formed Urban Agriculture Department undertook a few key actions: (1) it adapted city law to the planning concept of Usufruct, making it not just legal, but free to adapt unused, public land into food production plots; (2) it trained a network of extension agents, community members who monitor, educate, and encourage gardeners in their neighborhoods; (3) created “Seed Houses” (agricultural stores) to provide resources/information; and (4) established an infrastructure of direct-sale Farmers’ Markets to make these gardens financially viable.

 

By 1998 there were over 8,000 officially recognized gardens in Havana – from individually run plots to large State-run estates – all organic (by necessity, no pesticides were being imported) and producing about 50% of the country’s vegetables.

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local food markets | The Best & Worst States for Locally Grown Food | Rodale News

local food markets | The Best & Worst States for Locally Grown Food | Rodale News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
How does your state rank in terms of local food markets? Read more at Rodale.com.

 

To come up with the ranking system, the organization looked at data from the United Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Census, and other government data that compared the number of community-supported agriculture(CSA) programs and farmer's markets to a state's population. They used this metric to measure the availability of locally produced foods in each state.

 

Vermont topped the list, boasting 42 farmer's markets or CSA programs per 100,000 residents. Iowa, Montana, Maine, Hawaii, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho rounded out the top 10 most locavore-friendly states.

 

The states ranking worst in terms of availability of locally produced food include Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Arizona, and Florida. Florida came in dead last. The state offers just two CSAs or farmer's markets per 100,000 residents.

 

See the Entire List

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Grocery's rooftop garden a supermarket first

Grocery's rooftop garden a supermarket first | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The only supermarket in downtown New Orleans is the first grocery in the country to develop an aeroponic urban farm on its roof.

 

What exactly is an aeroponic urban garden?


Think vertical instead of horizontal. The garden "towers" use water rather than soil, and allow plants to grow upward instead of outward. It was developed by a former Disney greenhouse manager, and is used at Disney properties, the Chicago O'Hare Airport Eco-Farm and on the Manhattan rooftop of Bell Book & Candle restaurant.


"This is very cutting edge for urban farming," Donny Rouse said. His company has named the farm "Roots on the Rooftop."


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Vietnam Organic Agriculture makes debut

Vietnam Organic Agriculture makes debut | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The first congress of the Vietnam Organic Agriculture Association (VOA) was held in Hanoi on May 22, electing a 19-member executive board for the 2012-2017...

 

By the end of 2009, IFOAM had certified 160 countries around the world in organic agriculture, with 37.2 million hectares of organic agriculture land or 0.9 percent of the world’s agriculture land.

 

In Vietnam , 14,000 hectares have been put under organic cultivation, accounting for 0.14 percent of the country’s agricultural land. Of this, aquaculture makes up 7,000 hectares. Thirteen producers are qualified for organic recognition and they are producing shrimps, basa fish, tea and cashew nuts.

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