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The Barley Mow
Reaping what we sow
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Chinese food security may be motivating investments in Africa

Chinese food security may be motivating investments in Africa | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Future need to import more food a possible influence in China's engagement with African agriculture, claims study...

 

Africa's population is expected to match or overtake China's by 2050, but the paper says China will soon need to develop deeper trade ties with key African countries to help feed its 1.3 billion population.

 

"China's current engagement in African agriculture is primarily aimed at addressing African food security," said the report. "[But] by investing in the region with the greatest agricultural potential, China could also be seeking to support its long-term food security."

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Using Tourism as a Tool for Sustaining Biodiversity Conservation | Wild Navigator

Using Tourism as a Tool for Sustaining Biodiversity Conservation | Wild Navigator | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Involving local communities in Initiatives that are sustaining, biodiversity wildlife conservation acts as a tool for tourism.

 

 

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Bugs in the System | Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Bugs in the System | Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Many ethanol producers routinely add antibiotics such as penicillin and erythromycin (both important for human health) and virginiamycin and tylosin (both have analogues used to treat humans) to the tanks where they mix corn mash with warm water to ferment ethanol. Bacterial outbreaks are common in ethanol plants (the bacteria like the warm, moist conditions and the corn sugar), and can lead to yield (and therefore profit) losses.

 

Antibiotics help keep bacterial counts low, but fuel isn’t the only product that leaves ethanol plants. Producers also sell what is known as “distillers grains” (DGS), the nutrient-rich, leftover corn mash, to cattle, dairy, swine and poultry producers for use as a livestock feed. In 2008 the FDA found antibiotic residues in DGS samples taken from ethanol plants across the country, results that have been confirmed by subsequent studies.

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Three Perspectives on the Status of Global Food Security

Three Perspectives on the Status of Global Food Security | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

On April 20, the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted a meeting and discussion entitled, “Addressing the Global Food Crisis: Assessing Progress Since 2007.” Three speakers, Timothy Wise from Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute, Karen Hansen-Kuhn from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), and Neil Watkins from ActionAid USA, discussed whether on-the-ground progress has been made to provide greater food security around the world.

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Soil Association : Manufactured nitrogen

Soil Association : Manufactured nitrogen | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The use of manufactured nitrogen is not allowed in organic systems, so inputs of nitrogen come from nitrogen fixed by legumes, often clover leys, as part of a crop rotation that also controls pest and diseases. New evidence suggests that systems using this type of nitrogen behave differently in terms of nitrogen retention and loss, and a move away from manufactured nitrogen would also help mitigate the climate change impact of farming and guard against the increasing cost of artificial nitrogen.

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Declining biodiversity may contribute to rise in asthma, allergies

Declining biodiversity may contribute to rise in asthma, allergies | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Declining biodiversity may be contributing to the rise of asthma, allergies, and other chronic inflammatory diseases among people living in cities worldwide, a Finnish study suggests.

 

"Ilkka Hanski et al. from the Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, investigated whether reduced human contact with nature and biodiversity influences the composition of commensal skin bacteria and allergen sensitivity in a random sample of 118 teenagers living in eastern Finland. The authors found that subjects living on farms or near forests had more diverse bacteria on their skin and lower allergen sensitivity than individuals living in areas with less environmental biodiversity, such as urban areas or near bodies of water."

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Evergreen Agriculture | World Agroforestry Centre

Evergreen Agriculture | World Agroforestry Centre | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

 “Evergreen agriculture allows us to glimpse a future of more environmentally benign farming where much of our annual food crop production occurs under a full canopy of trees.” Dr Dennis Garrity, UN Drylands Ambassador and Senior Fellow at World Agroforestry Centre.

 

Evergreen Agriculture - the combination of trees in farming systems (agroforestry) with the principles of conservation farming - is emerging as an affordable and accessible science-based solution to caring better for the land and increasing smallholder food production.

 

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Rooftop Fish Farm Ups the Ante for Urban Agriculture

Rooftop Fish Farm Ups the Ante for Urban Agriculture | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
The prototype Globe/Hedron is a bamboo greenhouse designed to organically grow fish and vegetables on top of generic flat roofs. It uses aquaponic farming techniques so the fish's water nourishes the plants and plants clean the water for the fish.

 

"Using this farming technique, Globe/Hedron is optimized to feed four families of four all year round," Scarponi writes, projecting that it could annually produce 100 kilograms of fish and 400 kilograms of vegetables, from broccoli and Swiss chard in the winter to tomatoes and eggplant in the summer.

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Israel : Farmers vs. the environment

Israel : Farmers vs. the environment | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Environment: State Comptroller's report says government decision to reduce the amount of pesticides used in farming have been minimally implemented...

 

According to the comptroller's report, both livestock and humans were being hurt by the near-unregulated use of toxic materials in agriculture. In 2005, a kibbutz dairy farmer sprayed 260 cows to keep flies away – 180 of which died. People, the report says, are moving closer to agricultural communities, and suffering more from shortness of breath, nausea, and poisoning, sometimes needing to be hospitalized.

 

"Regulations from 2005 stipulating the distance between homes and areas to be sprayed have provided only a partial solution," the report reads. "In May 2011 the Agriculture Ministry submitted regulations on the matter."

 

Other issues cited in the report: Excess fertilizer seeping into the groundwater; pesticides sprayed in a field bordering organic farming land; and the risk posed to the ecosystem by unregulated use of pesticides in agriculture.

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‘Food, Inc.’ chicken farmer has a new, humane farm

‘Food, Inc.’ chicken farmer has a new, humane farm | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Carole Morison talks about her new pasture-based operation and the example she and her husband hope to set for other poultry farmers looking to change the industry.

 

" ... Having been a contract grower for so long, and never believing there was another way, Carole understands why other chicken farmers in her region are reluctant to give up their contracts and branch out on their own. But she believes her farm could be a model for her neighbors, whom she willingly talks to about her new farm. She also speaks to schoolchildren around the country who watch Food, Inc. in their classrooms, telling them that change is possible."

 

“This is what we want to do,” she says. “But we also hope it’ll plant seeds.”

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Going Green by Going Goats

Going Green by Going Goats | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Why Goatscape? or The First 12 Reasons We Could Think Of Why You Should Employ Goats. ...

 

A new generation is quickly recognizing goatscaping as a safer, saner and sounder method of remediating damage to landscape. Still, it is not entirely understood. Here we have broken down a few main points, which exhibit the benefits of Going Green by Going Goats, so that people can appreciate the service that these “horned locusts” provide."

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Italy: Organic tomatoes show promise against heart sickness and tumours

Italy: Organic tomatoes show promise against heart sickness and tumours | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Scientist of the 'Instituto di Biologia e Biotechnologia Agraria' (CNR) and the Uniiversità di Pisa' in Italy have shown the pharmacological properties of organically grown tomatoes. Tomatoes were known as a 'functional food' in the prevention of heart problems and tumours, but this newly obtained knowledge strengthened this known fact even more.

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GMOs and Pesticides—What Concerns Scientists | Organic Connections

GMOs and Pesticides—What Concerns Scientists | Organic Connections | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
New research has scientists concerned about the pesticides GMO crops are bred to resist. The potentials are alarming and necessitate both further serious scientific study and cautionary labeling to safeguard the health interests of the public.

 

... "But glyphosate’s fostering of pathogen growth may not only be harmful to plants. In fact, there is recent research suggesting strong evidence that this characteristic could affect animals fed GMO corn and soybean feed—and might potentially affect humans as well.

 

“Veterinarians have been reporting a new, as-yet-unnamed organism that is related to reproductive failure,” Dr. Huber said. “They have identified genetically modified plants as the source—especially soybeans and corn. They’ve established this new organism as the cause of that reproductive failure—infertility, miscarriage and spontaneous abortions. The plant has been tied, as the source, to those situations where you see conditions favorable for this organism to proliferate. We don’t have the research to document a direct effect of glyphosate in increasing that pathogen, but the evidence is that it changes the environment to make the plant more conducive for that organism to proliferate, and to thus be available and in the grain and feed that the animals receive.”

 

What are the chances that this pathogen could transmit to humans? ... "

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Unsustainable water use threatens agriculture, business and populations in China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and USA - global study | ReliefWeb

Unsustainable water use threatens agriculture, business and populations in China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and USA - global study | ReliefWeb | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The viability of water supplies throughout key regions of China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the US are under threat from unsustainable domestic, agricultural and industrial demands, according to a new study that maps water use down to 10km⊃2; worldwide.

 

The growth economies of China and India, and the world’s largest economy USA are identified by risk analysis company Maplecroft, in its newly released Water Stress Index, as having vast geographical regions and sector areas where unsustainable water use is outstripping supply. Maplecroft’s states that the situation so serious, it has the potential to limit economic growth by constraining business activities, as well as hampering agricultural outputs. Resulting reductions in crop harvests in these countries will also negatively impact local food supplies and global food prices, while the socio-economic impacts of water shortages, especially in India and China, have the potential to create unrest and affect stability, as populations and business compete for dwindling supplies.

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India’s bumper crops of wheat rot in open fields due to lack of storage

India’s bumper crops of wheat rot in open fields due to lack of storage | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
NEW DELHI — In fields along a northern Indian highway, mountains of grain have turned black with mildew after getting soaked in the rain.

 

"The millions of tons of wheat rotting because India ran out of warehouse space to hold another bumper crop illustrate a core problem of the nation’s food crisis: India can grow plenty of food but cannot store or transport it well enough to nourish its 1.2 billion people.

 

Warehouses are overflowing and huge quantities of wheat and rice are stored in fields under tarpaulins and thin plastic sheets, risking decay."

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Forget Fuel, Algae Could Help Feed the World - Forbes

Forget Fuel, Algae Could Help Feed the World - Forbes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

While the green chemistry potential of algae has been well-documented, what’s perhaps more interesting is the stuff’s potential to address looming food shortages. Comparing algae to soybeans, van der Meulen notes that the former has a year-round harvest and can produce 38 times more usable protein per acre per year than soy, using one percent of the water that crop needs. “Ultimately, we may not need fresh water at all,” he adds.

 

The resulting protein can be used in myriad food products and also as both animal and fish feed, which could make algae an important input for the aquaculture industry, which is predicted to grow from 80 million to 160 million tons of farmed fish in the next 20 years. Fish feed for aquaculture is currently made primarily of a fish meal, fish oil, soy and corn, all of which require far more water and energy inputs than algae. Aurora is also using its proprietary strain of algae to produce Omega 3 products for the nutraceutical market.

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Change Comes to Dinner: How Urban Farmers Are Changing Our Cities

Change Comes to Dinner: How Urban Farmers Are Changing Our Cities | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

As city dwellers across the U.S. develop an interest in fresher, more local, and more sustainable food, innovative methods of producing food in urban areas multiply. These enterprises take all forms, from nonprofit urban gardening programs serving low-income residents; to massive farm businesses restoring blighted city blocks; to high-tech aquaculture companies producing food on rooftops.

 

There are thousands of urban-ag projects of many kinds blooming in towns and cities all across the country and serving a variety of nutritional and social needs.

 

Organizations like City Slicker Farms in West Oakland, California, demonstrate the potential of urban agriculture to help correct an imbalance that has developed in many cities — that of fresh food’s availability in wealthier neighborhoods and relative paucity in inner-cities.

 

http://www.cityslickerfarms.org/

 

The organization maintains seven community market farms totaling less than an acre, which collectively produce 7,000 pounds of food a year to be sold at a central market stand to West Oaklanders at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.


Via Rick Passo
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European Commission : CORDIS : Newsroom : Biodiversity loss a major threat to plant growth, researchers warn

European Commission : CORDIS : Newsroom : Biodiversity loss a major threat to plant growth, researchers warn | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

'Loss of biological diversity due to species extinctions is going to have major impacts on our planet, and we'd better prepare ourselves to deal with them,' explained one of the authors of the study, Professor Bradley Cardinale from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan in the United States. 'These extinctions may well rank as one of the top five drivers of global change.'

 

Since the early 1990s, researchers have identified the more productive role of biologically diverse ecosystems. Experts have become increasingly concerned that the growing rates of modern extinctions could weaken nature's ability to provide goods and services, including a stable climate, food and clean water.

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Futurity.org – Cassava crop toxins threaten food security

Futurity.org – Cassava crop toxins threaten food security | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

“The study examined the cyanide levels and nutritional value of cassava, which are important to the overall quality of this crop and therefore its sustainability as a staple part of the diet in African communities,” Cavagnaro says.


“These findings highlight the need for adequate processing of cassava-based foods prior to consumption, and education of new growers about the risks associated with cassava.


“If developed further, cyanide testing kits used in this study could significantly reduce the risk of cyanide poisoning in existing and new cassava growing areas.”

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Alternative Energy on the Farm: Crown S Ranch | DairyHarvest.com

Alternative Energy on the Farm: Crown S Ranch | DairyHarvest.com | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

“Better for the animal, better for the environment, better for you” is the motto of Crown S Ranch. From simple 1930′s extension wisdom, to high-tech prototypes walk through the full circle of this farm’s innovative energy and input savings. Essential energy savings are realized in this pastured beef, pork, chicken and turkey operation through unique systems like a passive walk-through flytrap for their beef cattle, rotational grazing aided by solar powered chicken trains, solar powered fencing and hen house doors, composting, and gray water catchment from their poultry processing facility.

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Natural England - New study shows Herefordshire orchards yield more than just fruit

Natural England - New study shows Herefordshire orchards yield more than just fruit | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
New study shows Herefordshire orchards yield more than just fruit...

 

The results showed that all the orchards produced a range of valuable benefits over and above the fruit they supply. They provide a haven for wildlife, lock up carbon and enhance the quality of life for people living around them.

 

The four year study, funded partly by Leader+ and managed by the Bulmer Foundation was carried out in one of England’s major orchard counties with the help of cider producers and local people. It investigated both intensive bush orchards and traditional low intensity orchards where management is carried out without the use of inorganic fertilisers or pesticides.

 

Orchards are a characteristic, but declining feature of our countryside where 70% of our orchards have been lost since 1950. All the orchards studied produced a range of valuable benefits, adding to the growing evidence about the need to look after and restore Britain’s rich orchard heritage.

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Farming for the Future - despite what the neighbours think

Farming for the Future - despite what the neighbours think | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Ever feel you are swimming against the tide?

 

"It is our desire to turn this farm into a shining example of regenerative agriculture. As such, there are management practices we wish to introduce that actively and deliberately encourage the proliferation of 'weeds'. We even want to go as far as broadcast sowing 'weeds' into our pastures because as an animal fodder they are highly nutritious, being high in trace minerals and proteins.

 

Additionally by introducing them it will increase stabilisation of the pasture root structure drastically improving the water cycle, build topsoil, sequester carbon, accumulate minerals, hugely benefit insect life and pollinators which will benefit our fruit trees and the wild bird population... so the list goes on. However, 'weeds' in your fields are something to be ashamed of!

 

Conventionally, docks, dandelions, thistles, nettles etc. means poor pasture management and the worry will be your neighbours will be judging you for mismanaging the land. No one wants to be ridiculed or judged and I do understand my family's concerns; however, the reason we are trying hard to shed the worry of what others think is that we have seen what those who have freed themselves from those shackles have managed to achieve."

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Farmers from western Europe look to Romania for pastures new

Farmers from western Europe look to Romania for pastures new | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
High land prices and bureaucracy in native countries drive young generation east for a chance to build new businesses...

 

Maxime Laurent finished agricultural college in Châteaudun, France, in 2009. Then he loaded up trucks with farm machinery and set off for Macesu de Sus, a village in south-west Romania, about 10km from the Danube. Asked what prompted his departure, he says: "My parents ran a 300-hectare farm in the Beauce. They wanted to expand but were pre-empted twice by the [publicly owned] Safer [Rural Development Agency]. In France you can't even buy your neighbour's farm. There's no option but to give up and go somewhere else. You can't waste your whole life waiting then have something like that happen."

 

His case is far from unusual: Romania, with some 15m hectares of farmland, is attracting people from all over Europe. Thousands of British, Danish, French, German, Italian and Spanish farmers have moved there since it joined the EU in 2007.

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UK College of Ag researchers find new disease could impact future crop years | Our Economy

UK College of Ag researchers find new disease could impact future crop years | Our Economy | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Wheat blast is a disease that is recognized as an emerging threat worldwide. Caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae/Pyricularia grisea, the disease was first detected in southern Brazil in 1985 and has since become a problem in several of its neighboring countries. Crop losses of 40 percent are common and cases of 100 percent loss have been reported. Currently, there are no commercially available resistant varieties and fungicidal programs targeting wheat blast have generally been ineffective.

 

The Kentucky find is the first known occurrence of wheat blast outside of South America."

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Drip Irrigation's Compostable Plastic Pipes for Sustainable Agriculture

Drip Irrigation's Compostable Plastic Pipes for Sustainable Agriculture | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

" ... Israeli scientists and professors from the Plastics Engineering department of Shenkar Art School in Tel Aviv collaborated with drip irrigation company Netafim to invent a new biodegradable plastic. This plastic, made from substances such as sugar, corn or lactic acid, is durable enough to make pipes for drip irrigation and yet is still completely compostable.

 

“When they are put in the ground bio-organisms in the ground begin to dismantle them and thus closes the circle of nature. The goal is to avoid polymers produced by fossil carbon,” said Prof. Shmuel Kenig, dean of Shenkar College of Engineering.3

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