With enough solar energy to power almost 12,000 homes and employ 3,200 Texans, deregulation in the state policy since 2002, you might think the Lone Star State is at the forefront of the solar energy industry. However, the sunny state only ranks 13th in the nation for its installed solar capacity, outpaced by even small states New (more…)
BAL Chile SA CEO Benjamin González said, “Within the next five years we expect to be producing at commercial scale. At present, BAL is developing algae farming on the island of Chiloé and we are (more…)
The United States Department of Agriculture was tasked with tracking Farmers Markets beginning in 1994. The directory was updated every two years through 2008. In 2009, the process changed to a yearly rite. Here’s the breakdown:
In Normandy, France, a company makes a nutritional supplement called Plumpynut that offers the best hope for the world’s starving children.
Invented in 1999 by French pediatric nutritional scientist Andre Briend, who is affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO), and manufactured under the flagship French company Nutriset, which was formed in 1986 to address the nutritional problems of populations at risk, the product is manufactured under license from the company in several African countries where, in the past five years, it has transformed the treatment of malnourished children.
According to Doctors Without Borders’ chief nutritionist, Dr. Milton Tectonidis, the product is remarkable in that it delivers a mega-burst of essential nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals from a sterile, single-serving packet that doesn’t require any refrigeration, cooking, or clean water. (more…)
U.S. farmers who have switched to genetically engineered crops have made increased profits and reduced short-term damage to the environment, but reliance on weedkillers associated with the new crops could undermine the environmental benefits, according to a new study.
More than 80 percent of the soy, corn, and cotton grown in the U.S. is now genetically engineered to resist pests or the popular herbicide, Roundup, according to the report by the National Academy of Sciences.
But nine species of weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate, a main component of Roundup. (more…)
In Africa and elsewhere, burgeoning population growth threatens to overwhelm already over-stretched food supply systems. But the next agricultural revolution needs to get local — and must start to see rising populations as potentially part of the solution.
I bring good news from Machakos, a rural district of Kenya, a couple of hours drive from Nairobi. Seventy years ago, British colonial scientists dismissed the treeless eroding hillsides of Machakos as “an appalling example” of environmental degradation that they blamed on the “multiplication” of the “natives.” The Akamba had exceeded the carrying capacity of their land and were “rapidly drifting to a state of hopeless and miserable poverty and their land to a parched desert of rocks, stones and sand.”
Since independence in 1963, the Akamba’s population has more than doubled. Meanwhile, farm output has risen tenfold. Yet there are also more trees, and soil erosion is much reduced. The Akamba still use simple farming techniques on their small family plots. But today they are producing so much food that when I visited, they were selling vegetables and milk in Nairobi, mangoes and oranges to the Middle East, avocados to France, and green beans to Britain.
What made the difference? People. (more…)
The four year-old crisis of the disappearing bee is deepening. Harsh winter conditions led to a massive bee die-off and a new study found bee pollen and hives laced with pesticides.
Bee populations have been on the decline for years, but in 2006 scientists noticed an alarming drop in population and found that entire colonies were being abandoned as bees went off to die elsewhere, a phenomenon labeled “colony collapse disorder.”
With bees disappearing, farmers are scrambling to find enough of the little guys to pollinate their crops. The seriousness of the situation became clearer this spring when a hive shortage threatened the almond crop in California, which supplies the bulk of the world’s almonds.
Many culprits could possibly be behind the bees demise including viruses, bacteria, mites, chemical exposure and poor nutrition, but scientists are now zeroing in on pesticides. (more…)
There is a cascade failure going on in the world’s oceans that promises nothing but trouble in the future, and the problem stems in part from agricultural practices developed over the last half-decade aimed at growing more food on the same amount of land to feed rising populations.
A cascade failure is the progressive collapse of an integral system. Many scientists also call them negative feedback loops, in that unfortunate situations reinforce one another, precipitating eventual and sometimes complete failure.
The agricultural practices relate to “factory farming,” in which farmers grow crops using more and more chemical fertilizers, specifically nitrogen and phosphorus, which are the first two ingredients (chemical symbols N and P) listed on any container or bag of fertilizer. The last is potassium, or K. (more…)
Aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. Hemmed in by emerging certifications, a petroleum-based distribution network, and lack of supply, the industry is stuck on petroleum fuels for now, but not by choice.
Pressure to integrate more biofuels into the supply chain is palpable: oil price increases, oil price volatility, oil scarcity, greenhouse gas emission regulation, and increasingly, corporate social responsibility commitments. The future of the aviation sector is dependent on its ability to pivot away from petroleum-based fuels to alternative sources of energy, and they must do it quickly.
One caveat: while demand may be substantial, no one knows for sure if supply can keep pace, which makes statements from aviation experts at the World Biofuels Markets taking place in Amsterdam this week all that more interesting. (more…)
As the climate crisis accelerates, farmers are placed in the ever more precarious position of growing food for an increasing population in the face of increasingly bizarre weather patterns. Weather patterns are shifting due to the increasing amount of energy trapped in our atmosphere by greenhouse gases.
And yet, farming offers the fastest way to slowthe climate crisis. This is because farmers manage photosynthesis, the biological process within green plants that pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and stores it in a stable, useful form: organic carbon. Organic carbon is the chemical basis of leaves, shoots, roots, fungi and all the other living things that make up healthy soils.
Good farmers can accelerate this process and pull huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air into soil organic matter. Increased soil organic carbon can help us manage dry and wet years better by storing water. And the practices that build soil organic carbon require more diverse cropping systems, making farmers (and us) less reliant in any one crop. (more…)