Report: Intense pressure on land and water for agriculture
One-third of agricultural land worldwide, more than 2 million square miles in all, suffers from soil degradation caused by human use, said an FAO report on the mounting pressure on land and water for food production. "The pressures on soil, land and water are now intense and many are stressed to a critical point," wrote FAO director general Qu Dongyu in a foreword.
When the West Coast wildfires are out, can mushrooms help with the cleanup?
When the worst wildfire season on record in the West finally subsides, it will give way to another potentially devastating environmental crisis: toxins from charred and melted plastics, electronics, and other household materials leaching into watersheds, endangering residents, agriculture, and ecosystems.(No paywall)
Eating tomorrow: A conversation with Timothy Wise
Timothy A. Wise spent four years researching the industrialization of agriculture and the influence of agribusiness on policy creation around the world. Everywhere he traveled, he saw how governments and philanthropies have committed to a vision of hunger eradication that heralds industrial, large-scale agriculture. His new book, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food, details how this vision has largely failed to bring countries closer to food security even as it has imperiled our water, soil, and farming communities.(No paywall)
Beto O’Rourke releases climate plan, includes ag measures
Former congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke unveiled a $5-trillion climate plan Tuesday that calls for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and includes a number of agricultural initiatives to reduce and mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions on farms and deal with extreme weather events.
Survey: farmers support Conservation Stewardship Program
In a survey of over 800 farmers and ranchers across five states, the Center for Rural Affairs found overwhelming support for the farm bill's Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The Nebraska-based organization, which advocates for environmental stewardship and rural communities, concluded that the CSP should continue to exist and be funded as a standalone farm-bill initiative.
NATO plants biofuel-grass to clean contaminated military sites
Miscanthus, a fast-growing grass often grown as a biofuel, is now planted on six military sites, from Kansas to Kazakhstan, in a three-year NATO-run effort to clean up contaminated soil. At a conference earlier this month at Kansas State University, researchers reported that the grass stabilizes contaminants in the soil, preventing them from escaping into the air and water, and then gradually absorbs them.
UN: A third of Earth’s land is damaged, largely from industrial agriculture
A third of the Earth’s land is severely degraded and 24 billion tons of fertile soil are disappearing each year, according to a new United Nations-backed study that puts the majority of the blame on intensive agriculture. “The Global Land Outlook is billed as the most comprehensive study of its type, mapping the interlinked impacts of urbanisation, climate change, erosion and forest loss," reports The Guardian. "But the biggest factor is the expansion of industrial farming.”
Soil on organic farms can hold more carbon, says study
Research by Northeastern University indicates soil on organic farms contains more of a key component for sequestering carbon than soils on other farms, said the Organic Trade Association. The trade group said the study, which compared samples of soil from across the country, "provides a significant proof point that organic agricultural practices build healthy soils and can be part of the solution in the fight on global warming."
Cuba has plenty of fertile farmland, but is far from feeding itself
Cuba imports about 70-80 percent of it food, spending roughly $2 billion annually, but it has enormous potential to produce far more on its own and even export high-value crops to the U.S., due to its incredibly rich soils, says Pedro Sanchez, a renowned tropical soils specialist at the University of Florida.
California cops are getting illegal pot growers on enviro charges
Police officers in California's Humboldt County, where most of the state's pot is grown, are turning to environmental laws to catch illegal growers, reports USA Today.
Oats to the rescue in Iowa?
With corn and soybean prices plummeting, and pressure to reduce runoff from fields mounting, some Iowa farmers are turning to oats as a possible solution to both problems, says Harvest Public Media.
China’s ag overhaul biggest since Mao’s Great Leap
Even as China’s coal-fueled factories belch toxic smoke, the biggest abuse on China’s environment comes from agriculture, says Time. The country is trying to solve the problem with some of the most radical changes to its agricultural policy since Mao Zedong forced the People’s Republic onto collective farms in the late 1950s—and 30 million people died of starvation as a result.