A national study suggests that intensive farming is perhaps the greatest danger to wild bee survival.
Led by University of Vermont scientist Dr. Insu Koh, the research team is the first to compare the species’ population over time with the location of pollinator-dependent crops. The researchers found that between 2008 and 2013, the abundance of wild bees dropped in almost a quarter of the contiguous United States.
The study suggests that conversion of grassland and pasture to row crops is the driving force behind the disappearance of bees–not pesticides, climate change, or disease.
Currently, the world’s food system is in a state of flux. Small growers across the globe attempt to impact their local communities by producing organic food that challenges traditional food production. The students of Stanford University’s FEED (Food Education Entrepreneurship Design) Collaborative intend to impact the food system in another way: human centered design.
Matthew Rothe of Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design explains the FEED Collaborative’s approach to fixing the global food system. “We believe that human centered design is a powerful process for uncovering the unmet needs of people and for unlocking the creative problem solving potential of its practitioners. Coupled with the domain knowledge of our collaborators and opportunities for social entrepreneurship, we believe human centered design is the most compelling opportunity we have for driving the level of innovation needed to transform our food system.”
Nearly 1 billion people around the world are hungry. Another billion people are obese. At the same time, one third of the food produced for human consumption spoils or goes to waste. These problems have become pervasive throughout the globe. They affect industrialized and developing nations alike. Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson of Chicago, Illinois saw these statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as symptoms of a failed global food system. In response, they launched Food Tank: The Food Think Tank as a platform for anyone with a stake in the global food system to contribute to a solution. According to the non-profit’s website, “Food Tank: The Food Think Tank is for the 7 billion people who have to eat every day.”
USDA Reports Synthesize Literature on Climate Change Effects and Adaptation Strategies for U.S. Agriculture and ForestsFebruary 11, 2013 | USDA
News Release – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released two comprehensive reports today that synthesize the scientific literature on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture and forests. The reports, entitled Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation and the Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector, were created as inputs to the National Climate Assessment. Scientists from the federal service, universities, non-governmental organizations, industry, tribal lands and the private sector contributed to the peer-reviewed studies.
California Strawberry Commission Report Highlights Farmers’ Global Leadership in Sustainable AgricultureJanuary 17, 2013 | California Strawberry Commission
News Release – WATSONVILLE, CA, January 16, 2013 – Since first pioneering drip irrigation in the 1970s, California’s strawberry farmers continue to serve as global leaders in developing sustainable strawberry farming practices to reduce negative impacts to air, water and land, according to a report issued today by the California Strawberry Commission.
“Investing in a Sustainable Future” chronicles the contributions of the state’s family farmers to protecting the environment along California’s Central Coast. It captures more than forty years of sustainable practices – from water conservation and ozone protection to pesticide reduction and the broad-based incorporation of organic farming methods among California’s strawberry farmers, said commission officials.
News Release – The Federal Government should launch a coordinated effort to boost American agricultural science by increasing public investments in that economically important domain and rebalancing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research portfolio, according to a new report by an independent, presidentially appointed advisory group. The report also calls for the creation of a network of public-private agricultural “innovation institutes,” to leverage the strengths of government scientists and commercial interests.
News Release – The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has released a new report entitled Conservation Practices in Outdoor Hog Production Systems: Findings and Recommendations from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.
The report, written by N.C. State University animal science Research Associate Silvana Pietrosemoli, explains strategies for reducing the environmental impacts of outdoor hog production systems, which can pose environmental risks if not properly managed.
For most of us soil, or “dirt”, is something to get rid of, even to fear. Millions are spent on television ads to tell us how to fight dirt and win. A farmer’s relationship with the stuff that gets under fingernails, however, is starkly different. To reap a harvest and turn a profit, a farmer must work with dirt, or as one crop advisor calls it, “that black box we call soil.” All inputs, chemicals included, are applied to optimize harvests and net profit. But earth, from which seeds sprout, though seemingly simple in its brownness, is not a single entity; rather it is a complex ecosystem as full of mystery as the depths of the sea. Since it is from the earth that all terrestrial life springs, it is worthy to ask: what of crop plants, agricultural chemicals and this little known realm that absorbs them?