Report: Fertilizer responsible for more than 20 percent of total agricultural emissions

As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) gets underway in Glasgow, a new report finds that synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought, outpacing even the commercial aviation industry. The report, from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Greenpeace and GRAIN, urges a swift transition toward more sustainable food production in order to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change.(No paywall)

International contest of ideas: Farm to Fork vs. productivity coalition

The United States will launch a "coalition for productivity growth" to promote the use of high-tech tools such as gene editing and precision agriculture to build a more sustainable food system, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. The coalition would stand in contrast to the EU's Farm to Fork Strategy of greatly reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides and putting 25 percent of European farmland into organic production.

World Conservation Congress takes aim at agriculture as key to addressing the biodiversity and climate crises

The urgent need for systemic change in order to avoid biodiversity collapse and further climate catastrophe echoed across the opening weekend of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France. In a speech to kick off the congress on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of addressing both biodiversity and climate change in an integrated way, saying, “There is no vaccine for a sick planet.”(No paywall)

Cover crops grow in popularity, but still a niche

Extolled as a defense against erosion and nutrient loss during fallow seasons, cover crops are being planted on a larger portion of U.S. cropland than before, said USDA economists. Plantings expanded 50 percent in a five-year period, but still only 5 percent of cropland is sown with them—and incentive payments are an important factor in adoption of the practice.

She stakes her claim: the story of the Ladies Homestead Gathering

The notion of living self-sufficiently off the land has long been an American ideal, particularly in times of crisis. So it’s no surprise that the turmoil of recent decades— from 9/11 and the breakdown of the financial system to continuous war and the existential threat of climate change—has spurred another such movement. In FERN's latest story, published with Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Meyer takes us inside the National Ladies Homestead Gathering, which Cyndi Ball founded in 2011 at her home in Georgia. The organization has since grown to 34 chapters in 17 states located all across the country, and the goal is someday to have a chapter within 30 minutes of every woman in America.(No paywall)

In ‘final report card,’ world fails to meet biodiversity goals, says UN

In 2010, global leaders set 20 goals for preserving biodiversity worldwide in the decade ahead. Today, none of the targets has been met fully and only six are even partially achieved, said the United Nations in "a final report card" on the effort. "Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate,” said the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, “and the pressures driving the decline are intensifying." Still, the UN said, "it is not too late to slow, halt, and reverse current trends." (No paywall)

With industrial meat hobbled, small producers are seeing a surge in sales. Can it last?

With industrial meat operations struggling to stay open, consumers are turning in droves to smaller producers to keep them in beef, pork, chicken and lamb, as Stephen R. Miller reports in FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. Miller's story takes a close look at one operation, SkyPilot Farm in Longmont, Colorado, which is run by Chloe Johnson and her husband Craig Scariot. Since the outbreak, sales at SkyPilot have increased about 400 percent and the customer base has tripled.(No paywall)

Shift to ‘climate neutral’ agriculture, urges small-farm group

Climate change poses a serious threat to farmers as well as the rest of society, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in a report, released today, that calls for action “to make U.S. agriculture climate-neutral.” Steps would range from requiring farmers to meet minimum standards …

Farming plays key role in UN climate push on land restoration

When the UN Climate Summit gets underway next week, it will be the focal point of mass protests and media coverage, but another global climate initiative is revving up that focuses on large-scale land restoration as a way to counter the advent and impact of climate change.(No paywall)