Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Biochar benefits poor soils (#journal)

Biochar amendment improves crop production in problem soils: A review

Problem soils have poor physical, chemical, and biological properties that inhibit or prevent plant growth, largely due to inappropriate farming practices or anthropogenic pollution. Biochar has been widely used as a soil amendment for improving soil quality. Relatively limited attention has been focused on the effects of biochar amendment on plant growth in problem soils. A comprehensive review of literature was conducted. This suggests that biochar amendment is a viable way of improving the quality of problem soils and enhancing crop production. It is anticipated that further research on biochar amendment will increase our understanding on the interactions of biochar with components of problem soils, speed up our effort on soil remediation, and improve crop production in problem soils.


US goverment predicts climate crisis (online)

New federal climate assessment for U.S. released

A new federal report finds that climate change is affecting the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, and human health and welfare across the U.S. and its territories. Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), released Nov. 23, 2018 by the United States Global Change Research Program, focuses on climate change impacts, risks and adaptations occurring in the U.S. The report contains supporting evidence from 16 national-level topic chapters (e.g., water, oceans, energy, and human health), 10 regional chapters and two chapters that focus on societal responses to climate change. USGCRP also released the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report .

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

5 PhDs at Utrecht in permaculture (online)

5 PhD positions at Utrecht Uni with a focus on radical grassroots innovation in sustainable agriculture (Permaculture & CSA) and a notion of unmaking capitalism.

Utrecht University has opened five new positions for PhD candidates in the field of Transformation to Sustainability, with a focus on radical grassroots innovations in agriculture. The five PhD candidates will become part of the new, cutting-edge international research programme “Societal transformation to sustainability through the unmaking of capitalism? A comparative study of radical grassroots innovations” (UNMAKING). The five PhD candidates will work on their doctoral dissertations over a period of four years within the broader framework and research design of the UNMAKING programme.


Biodiversity, health & climate change (free online book)

Biodiversity and Health in the face of Climate Change

 This open access book identifies and discusses biodiversity’s contribution to physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the book identifies the implications of this relationship for nature conservation, public health, landscape architecture and urban planning – and considers the opportunities of nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation.

Great intro to regenerative agriculture (online)

Agriculture is broken, but we can fix it

I remember cycling past corn fields on my way to school. What ten-year-old me didn’t realise, of course, is that the huge machines and the beautiful, tidy monotony of the fields were part of the world's biggest problem; that 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions are related to the agricultural sector; that agriculture, and animal agriculture in particular, is the number one driver of deforestation worldwide. It doesn’t have to be like this. There are agricultural models that produce more and better food while actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The global transition from “destructive agriculture” towards “regenerative agriculture” is possible, and it is necessary.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Restoring degraded soil structure (journal)

Patterns and Factors of Soil Structure Recovery as Revealed From a Tillage and Cover-Crop Experiment in a Compacted Orchard

Degraded soil structure recovery is much less documented than structure degradation and compaction. In this field experiment, the effects of rotary spade tillage followed by Sorghum cover crop on the degraded structure of the soil from an orchard were evaluated. A large and significant improvement of the structure quality scores were obtained. Analysis revealed a significant impact of the tillage and root development on the structure recovery, larger than the effect of SOC content. This structural change pattern was similar to those reported from other studies. Though the observed final structure quality of the top layer was good, its vulnerability remains large due to its small SOC to clay ratio.

Permaculture and soil organic matter (journal)

Effects of Permaculture Practices on Soil Physicochemical Properties and Organic Matter Distribution in Aggregates: A Case Study of the Bec-Hellouin Farm (France)

Authors studied the impact of permaculture and biointensive micro-gardening practices on soil physicochemical properties and soil organic matter (SOM) distribution. The physicochemical properties of soils in permaculture implemented for 7 years were compared with a soil under pasture and a soil under conventional agriculture. Permaculture/ biointensive micro-gardening practices enhanced SOM storage and modified the distribution of SOM, while substantially improving nutrient bioavailability and strongly affecting soil properties. The effects of permaculture practices on soil properties would certainly vary depending on geopedoclimatic context, justifying the need to implement the approach for other soil types.

Assessing crop/livestock/forestry systems (#journal)

Crop, livestock and forestry performance assessment under different production systems in the north of Mato Grosso, Brazil

Integrated crop–livestock–forestry systems are a priority theme in the public policy of the Brazilian government. Lack of technical and scientific knowledge may be contributing to the low adoption of these complex systems. Ten production systems were evaluated from 2011 to 2015, including crop production (soybean/corn), livestock (palisade grass pastures with Nellore steers) and forestry (Eucalyptus urograndis H13), in both single and integrated systems. A negative influence on the grain yields in the fourth and fifth years for soybean and the third year onward for maize was observe. Forage availability and animal weight gain were increased by the rotation of crop–livestock, while no differences were found for wood volume yield.

Eating organic lowers risk of cancer (online)

Eating organic food lowers risk of certain cancers, study suggests

Eating organic food could cut the risk of cancer, a new study has found. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer rates were lower among those who more frequently eschewed conventional food, according to researchers from the Centre of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics in Paris who examined data from nearly 70,000 adults. The reduced risk may be because those who eat organic are not exposed to the chemical pesticides and medicines which are generally used to treat regular fruit, veg, meat and fish, they suggested.