The Barley Mow
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Reaping what we sow
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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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GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies

GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A landmark study found 93 per cent of blood samples taken from pregnant women and 80 per cent from umbilical cords tested positive for traces of the chemicals.

 

Toxins implanted into GM food crops to kill pests are reaching the bloodstreams of women and unborn babies, alarming research has revealed. A landmark study found 93 per cent of blood samples taken from pregnant women and 80 per cent from umbilical cords tested positive for traces of the chemicals.

 

To date the industry has always argued that if these toxins were eaten by animals or humans they would be destroyed in the gut and pass out of the body, thus causing no harm. Food safety authorities in Britain and Europe have accepted these assurances on the basis that GM crops are effectively no different to those produced using conventional methods.


But the latest study appears to blow a hole in these claims and has triggered calls for a ban on imports and a total overhaul of the safety regime for GM crops and food.

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Appeal of organic products seeps into wine industry

Appeal of organic products seeps into wine industry | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
NEW YORK, April 17 (Reuters) - The popularity of farm-to-table restaurants and organic produce is seeping into the wine industry as more producers adopt green practices.

 

The popularity of farm-to-table restaurants and organic produce is seeping into the wine industry as more producers adopt green practices. But their motives for making organic, sustainable and biodynamic wine may be more personal than business, although the practices also improve the quality of the wines.

 

"Most of the wineries are family-owned businesses and they saw this as a better way to farm. They wanted to pass on healthier farms and businesses to the next generation," said Gladys Horiuchi, a spokeswoman for the California Wine Institute.

She added that more than two-thirds of California's acreage and production is certified as sustainable.

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Ancient farming method may help conserve savannahs - SciDev.Net

Ancient farming method may help conserve savannahs - SciDev.Net | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"A fire-free farming method practiced by early inhabitants of the Amazonian savannahs could help inform efforts to conserve and rehabilitate these important ecosystems around the world, a study has found.

 

The research provides greater historic context for findings presented at a conference earlier this year (26 January), which suggested that slash-and-burn — in which trees are felled, left to dry and then burned to prepare land for farming — provides better growing conditions for valuable trees such as mahogany."


Via Luigi Guarino
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Farms Without Soil Take Root In The Middle East

Farms Without Soil Take Root In The Middle East | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
We insist on living on parts of the earth covered by desert, rock, or ice. Because those places don’t produce their own food, feeding the people who live there requires a global network of food production and transport.

 

Redeploying a technology designed for medical applications, Japanese researcher Yuichi Mori at Waseda University is using a plastic "hydrogel" membrane resembling Saran Wrap to grow plants on a transparent, soil-free film. The technique uses one-tenth of the water and a fraction of the fertilizer to grow the same produce as conventional agriculture. The plants are generally free of pathogens, pesticides, and pollutants such as oil or heavy metals because the membrane is selective: Water drawn up by the plant’s roots pass through it, but other compounds are left behind.

 

Early tests in desert greenhouses in the Middle East show tomatoes and other plants thriving on the membrane directly atop the desert sand. A small pipe irrigation system supplies water and nutrients. In a TedX talk in Tokyo, Mori said any surface will work anywhere from concrete floors to contaminated ground left behind by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. All that’s needed to start a film farm is space, sun, and nutrient-rich water.

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7 Ways Organic Farms Outperform Conventional Farms | Eartheasy Blog

7 Ways Organic Farms Outperform Conventional Farms | Eartheasy Blog | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Sustainable, organic farming practices are the best way to feed the future...

 

"... while today’s large scale food producers continue to profit and consumers see supermarket shelves overflowing with farm products, the unseen costs of our dependence on agribusiness exert a mounting toll. Farmlands have become increasingly dependent on chemical fertilizers which have short-term benefits but contribute to soil depletion over time. Water retention is diminished in non-organic farmland, resulting in erosion of topsoil with chemical residues entering watersheds."

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Report shows impact of intensive livestock farming in Canada

Report shows impact of intensive livestock farming in Canada | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Canadian factory farming has had a tremendous impact on human health, the environment, animal welfare and rural communities, according to a report commissioned by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPCA).

 

 

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Increasing Consumer Demand for Organic Food and Products Drives Growth in Organic Industry

Increasing Consumer Demand for Organic Food and Products Drives Growth in Organic Industry | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
On the heels of Earth Day it seems appropriate that a trend in consumer choice is one of an organic nature. According to data from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) growing consumer demand has resulted in growth in the U.S.

 

“Consumers are increasingly engaged and discerning when they shop, making decisions based on their values and awareness about health and environmental concerns. For them, it matters whether foods are genetically engineered, or produced using practices that are good for their families. Price is still an issue, but with the wide availability of private label products and many venues for organic products, they have many choices for where to shop and a variety of products from which to choose.”

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Five Reasons to Eat Organic Apples: Pesticides, Healthy Communities, and You - Forbes

Five Reasons to Eat Organic Apples: Pesticides, Healthy Communities, and You - Forbes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

 There are good reasons to eat organic and locally raised fruits and vegetables. For one, they usually taste better and are a whole lot fresher. Yet most of us can’t afford to buy all our food at the farmer’s market or natural foods store, and in many places, locally produced and organic foods are a struggle to find.

So if you can only buy a few organic fruits and vegetables – which should should it be? Which single piece of produce could have the greatest impact on agriculture, the environment and your family’s health, all at once?

 

The data says: apples

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Practical Biology: science for everyone: Simple and Effective SNAP Hydroponics

Practical Biology: science for everyone: Simple and Effective SNAP Hydroponics | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In its short history it has already proven itself as extremely effective and is transforming communities in the Philippines by providing a safe and inexpensive food source. It also has allowed communities to generate new streams of income by selling food grown in their system. The system is known as the Simple Nutrient Addition Program (SNAP). It uses a reservoir for the nutrient solution to sit in and a cover for the reservoir with pot sized holes in it. Plants grown in pots or small baskets are stock in the reservoir cover holes and the roots hung down into the nutrient solution. Extremely simple, easy, and inexpensive yet very effective.

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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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30 Year Study: Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional, Chemical Farming | Wake Up World

30 Year Study: Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional, Chemical Farming | Wake Up World | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Based on a 30-year side-by-side trial of conventional and organic farming methods at Pennsylvania’s Rodale Institute, organic farming outperformed conventional farming in every category.

 

Based on a 30-year side-by-side trial of conventional and organic farming methods at Pennsylvania’s Rodale Institute, organic farming outperformed conventional farming in every category.

 

Rodale Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research, claims the Farming Systems Trial (FST)® at Rodale Institute is America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture. The farming trial started in 1981 for the purpose of studying what happens during the transition from chemical to organic agriculture.

 

After an initial decline in yields during the first few years of transition, Rodale Institute claims the organic system soon rebounded to match or surpass the conventional system.

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OF BEES, BIODIVERSITY & ORGANIC FARMS

OF BEES, BIODIVERSITY & ORGANIC FARMS | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Following three new studies, it has emerged that imidacloprid, one of the world's most widely used pesticides, is the most likely cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), where bees abandon their hives en masse. But does it happen in Ireland?"

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Climbing beans improve life for Rwandan farmers – in pictures

Climbing beans improve life for Rwandan farmers – in pictures | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
New varieties of climbing beans, developed by the Rwandan Agricultural Research Institute in collaboration with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, have been introduced to Rwanda and are being grown in place of traditionally grown bush...

 

Farmers in northern Rwanda prepare land for planting. Already one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, the UN predicts that Rwanda’s population will quadruple by 2100, placing increasing pressure on the limited agricultural land. While beans are a staple food crop in the country, traditional bush beans produce poor yields and cannot support the country’s current population.

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The Secrets of Soil - GreenBuilder

The Secrets of Soil - GreenBuilder | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Abused, misunderstood, poisoned and taken for granted, soils deserve better.

 

“If you soil organic carbon by 1% over 12 inches of depth, it can sequester 59 more tons of CO2 per square acre. “So think of it this way,” he continues. “About 12% of the earth is arable. If we increased organic matter on all arable land by 1.6 percent, we could sequester enough carbon to get us back to the preindustrial level of 299 parts per million of CO2.”


The global warming tipping point is largely agreed to be about 400 parts per million. So in other words, soils have the potential to save us from ourselves. But we have to treat them a lot differently.

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Sunny side up please : Latest blogs from the Soil Association

Sunny side up please : Latest blogs from the Soil Association | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"Organic farmers up and down the country are seeing the numerous benefits of avoiding the use of manufactured fertilisers to power their plants. By using legumes, which 'fix' nitrogen in their roots as they grow instead, they turn energy from the sun straight into nitrogen to feed their crops, and to feed us.

 

While it can't be denied that manufactured fertilisers have boosted crop yields beyond what we thought was possible a century ago, it's time to seriously consider the consequences of this dependency. What other environmental limits are being broken by using nitrogen fertilisers? And what can we do to reverse the damage that has been done?

 

Just remember, the energy we use to power crop growth ends up in the food we eat. It is estimated that half of the protein consumed by humans is made from nitrogen that originated from manufactured fertilisers. I really don’t fancy fertilisers, and all the baggage that goes with them, for breakfast – next time I’ll ask for mine sunny side up!"

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Whole Food Blues: Why Organic Agriculture May Not Be So Sustainable

Whole Food Blues: Why Organic Agriculture May Not Be So Sustainable | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Analysis: Organic farming yields 25% fewer crops on average than conventional agriculture...

 

"The main difference is nitrogen, the chemical key to plant growth. Conventional agriculture makes use of 171 million metric tons of synthetic fertilizer each year, and all that nitrogen enables much faster plant growth than the slower release of nitrogen from the compost or cover corps used in organic farming. When we talk about a Green Revolution, we really mean a nitrogen revolution—along with a lot of water.

 

But not all the nitrogen used in conventional fertilizer ends in crops—much of it ends up running off the soil and into the oceans, created vast polluted dead zones. As Richard Black of the BBC points out, we’re already putting more nitrogen into the soil than the planet can stand over the long term. And conventional agriculture also depends heavily on chemical pesticides, which can have unintended side effects—see the allegations that the pesticide imidacloprid may be connected to honeybee colony collapse disorder.

 

What that means is that while conventional agriculture is more efficient—sometimes much more efficient—than organic farming, there are trade-offs with each. So an ideal global agriculture system, in the views of the study’s authors, may borrow the best from both systems ...

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Bacteria, insects join forces against pesticide

Bacteria, insects join forces against pesticide | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"A single insect can support an estimated 100 million Burkholderia cells in its gut. In return for providing a comfortable living space, infected bean bugs acquired a new tolerance to the pesticide in the lab. Most of the insects survived doses of fenitrothion that killed 80 percent or more of their undefended comrades within five days.

 

Some scientists worry that this route to resistance could spread quickly in agricultural fields. Insecticide resistance typically evolves slowly, as genetic changes arise in successive insect generations. Snatching up soil bacteria, which reproduce and thus evolve much faster, seems an easy shortcut. Bugs flying from place to place could also spread their microbial allies around."

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Health News: The Renaissance of the Family Farm

Health News: The Renaissance of the Family Farm | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Scott Trautman is a first-generation American farmer who, with his family, has created a thriving farm that is unique in its philosophy.

 

“I will tell potential farmers, it does take quite an investment on our part, and a couple years to reawaken the soil life, and we go in the hole to do it. A partnership is required if we areto undo all the farming mistakes of the past 50 years. Nature is so amazingly resilient if you only listen and provide the little it needs. We have to work together—like our grandfathers did—yet with the intelligence and efficiency of the modern world, and the best of the culture of the 1950s."


Via Linda Hutchison
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