Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Carbon negative district heating (online)

Tampere’s Hiedanranta to be the first in Finland to produce carbon-negative district heating

The commercial production of carbon-negative district heating has begun for first time in Finland. The Carbofex factory heats up wood and turns it into a mineral, i.e. biochar. This happens through pyrolysis. When the biochar is used as a soil amendment it will sequester carbon permanently in the soil. The production process also produces waste heat. That heat will be bought by Tampereen Sähkölaitos Oy, which will distribute it to its own customers via its district heating network, heating thirty high rise blocks.

Biochar included in IPCC report (online)

Biochar and PyCCS included as negative emission technology by the IPCC

Biochar was included for the first time as a promising negative emission technology in the new IPCC special report, 8th October 2018. The inclusion of biochar is an important milestone for mitigating climate change and fostering research on pyrogenic carbon. Since the EU is obliged to fund research in negative emission technologies due to the Paris Agreement, it can be expected that biochar research and development will start to receive more funding in the near term. Here, authors provide a short summary on pyrogenic carbon capture and storage (PyCCS) and relevant excerpts from the new IPCC special report. 

Agroecology in Canada

 Agroecology in Canada: Towards an Integration of Agroecological Practice, Movement, and Science
This article surveys the current state of agroecology in Canada, giving particular attention to agroecological practices, the related social movements, and the achievements of agroecological science. In each of these realms, we find that agroecology emerges as a response to the various social and ecological problems associated with the prevailing industrial model of agricultural production that has long been promoted in the country under settler colonialism.

More top agroecology videos (hyperlinks)

List of inspirational agroecology videos

A picture is worth a thousand words, but what about videos? Here is a list with some documentaries and other visual sources dealing with agroecology, food and food systems.

Agroecology reports and videos (hyperlinks)

World Future Council 

Loads of links to great documents, reports and videos on all aspects of agroecology and land management.

Agroforestry boosts ecosystem services (#journal)

Modelling tree density effects on provisioning ecosystem services in Europe
One constraint on the uptake of agroforestry is a lack of knowledge on how specific agroforestry designs affect productivity. A biophysical model called Yield-SAFE, was used: (1) to quantify the food, material and biomass energy production of four case study systems, and (2) to quantify how tree density determined the supply of ecosystem services. The modelled results showed that including trees in pasture or arable systems increased the accumulated energy of the system in comparison with monoculture. The greatest accumulated energy occurred in the highest tree density agroforestry system at all the case study sites. This suggests that the capture of environmental resources, such as light and water, for obtaining provisioning services is most effective in high density agroforestry systems.

Intercropping effects on maize (thesis)

I (Chris WB) found this MSc thesis completely by chance while looking for something else. Although neither permacultural nor organic, it provides a great methodology for studying the effects on yield and insect contol of different intercropping systems. I am posting it here mainly because of the methodology and the literature review which may be useful to others, but if you want a snapshot of the results, the study found maize grows best when intercropped with cluster bean or field bean, both of which have substantial economic benefits. Most of the inter crops clearly reduced insect damage compared to maize alone, with maize/field bean and maize/cluster bean creating the lowest population of insect pests.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Polyculture doubles CO2 sequestration (online)

Species-rich forests store twice as much carbon as monocultures

Species-rich subtropical forests can take up, on average, twice as much carbon as monocultures. An international research team with the involvement of the University of Zurich has evaluated data from forests grown specifically for this purpose in China with a total of over 150,000 trees. After eight years, such species-rich forest plots stored an average of 32 tons of carbon per hectare in above ground biomass. By contrast, monocultures averaged only 12 tons of carbon per hectare—less than half as much.

Kevin Anderson's radical response to IPCC (online)

Professor Kevin Anderson responds to the IPCC report
The UK's foremost radical expert gives his response, and his challenge: 'The responsibility for global emissions is heavily skewed towards the lifestyles of a relatively few high emitters. Almost 50% of global carbon emissions arise from the activities of around 10% of the global population, increasing to 70% of emissions from just 20% of citizens. Impose a limit on the per-capita carbon footprint of the top 10% of global emitters, equivalent to that of an average European citizen, and global emissions could be reduced by one third in a year or two.'

Agroforestry greens The Sahel (Journal)

Hydraulic Redistribution by Native Sahelian Shrubs: Bioirrigation to Resist In-Season Drought

Hydraulic redistribution (HR) by woody vegetation has been proposed as a potential water source for crops in intercropped systems. The native woody shrub, Guiera senegalensis, grows across the African Sahel and has shown profound yield benefits to associated pearl millet crops, especially in drought years. The authors tested whether this benefit resulted from the shrubs performing hydraulic redistribution (HR). They found millet biomass production when intercropped with shrubs was over 900% greater than crops grown without shrubs. This finding illuminates HR and water transfer as an important mechanism in agroforestry in a region where food security is a serious issue.

Latest IPCC report (online)

IPCC Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C

An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. For those working to inspire effective action on climate, start with section 4.3.3, pp.71-77, here: http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_chapter4.pdf

Photo celebration of small farmers (exhibition)

300 photographs, 50 farming communities, 47 photographers, 6 continents. In London and simultaneously all over the world. 

An exhibition celebrating small-scale farming and agro-ecology. This is about people, not production lines; farms not factories; agri-culture, not agri-business. This is about a fair and just farming system that regenerates the Earth and does not cost the planet. For the last three years, We Feed the World has captured the triumphs and challenges of 50 communities around the world. These extraordinary images and their incredible stories aim to forge a new and positive narrative about the farmers who really feed the world.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Crop nibblers and how to stop them (online)

Crop Nibblers; Who Else is Eating Your Crops

Victoria Burton of The Permaculture Assciation Britain and Alice Ambler of The James Hutton Institute present three articles looking at common or gaden pests; invertebrates, birds and small mammals. The articles cover how to find out what's nibbling your crops, why they want to, and some environmentally friendly ways to stop them.