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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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IIED Brief Urges UN Climate Negotiators to Promote Traditional Sustainable Agriculture Practices

November 9, 2011 |

United Nations climate negotiators seeking accord on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol agreement on climate change action in Durban later this month are largely ignoring a wealth of readily available information that could protect food supplies and make agriculture more resilient to climate change, asserts a briefing paper from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Read More

Foundation Seeks to Use Sustainable Agriculture to Empower Women in the Developing World

November 8, 2011 |

For the Global Hunger Foundation, combatting hunger in developing countries requires more than just sending emergency food their way. The foundation takes a much more long-lasting approach—it aims to empower women in poverty-stricken countries by helping them learn how to grow their own organic food.

Why the focus on women, one might ask.

H. Eric Schockman, president of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit and a university professor, said that’s because about 70 percent of small farming entities in the world are run by women. Studies also show that women are more likely than men to pour resources they are given back into their communities, he said. Read More

Penn State Receives $2.3M Grant to Investigate Impact of Cover Crop Cocktails on Organic Agriculture

November 2, 2011 |

Researchers at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences were recently awarded a $2.3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine the effects of various “cover crop cocktails,” or cover crop mixtures, on organic agriculture production.

Jason Kaye, associate professor of soil biogeochemistry, said the study hopes to determine whether mixing multiple varieties of cover crops or planting a single species is better at amplifying ecosystem functions in a corn-soybean-wheat cash crop rotation that produces organic feed and forage. Read More

Startup Profile: Entrepreneur Looks to Profit by Spreading the Word about Worms

November 1, 2011 |

Ralph Crevoshay, president of VermiVision, is trying to get the word out about worms. That’s because the entrepreneur views his company’s method of vermicomposting—or worm composting—as a sure thing when it comes to successful growing. He also sees it as a major business opportunity.

The San Diego-based company, which is still in launch mode, is focused on creating community-based vermicomposting facilities, particularly through partnerships with universities and research centers. Vermicomposting is a process in which worms consume organic matter and break it down into high-value compost through their excretions, or “castings,” according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Read More

Inventiveness and Business Savvy along with some Help from the Livestock Sustain Farm in Dover, PA

October 26, 2011 |

If you looked into one of the rain barrels at Sunnyside Farm, you’d notice three goldfish swimming in the collected rainwater. The fish help prevent algae growth and control mosquito eggs in the stored water, which is captured from the hoop house roof and used to irrigate the farm’s acre of heirloom vegetables. The setup is just one small example of how husband and wife duo Homer Walden and Dru Peters are using creative innovations to farm sustainably on 13 acres in Dover, PA.

Walden and Peters are part of a wave of new farmers seeking viable models for sustainable food production in response to the high environmental and economic costs of conventional farming. The environmental costs of feedlot livestock operations and monoculture crops include emissions from livestock and farm machinery, soil erosion, and loss of overall soil fertility. Separating the cow from the grass necessitates costly inputs including feed, fertilizer and machinery that can leave farmers in a cycle of debt. Read More