Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Citizen science for climate adapted crops (journal)

Crop variety management for climate adaptation supported by citizen science

Climate adaptation requires farmers to adjust their crop varieties over time and use the right varieties to minimize climate risk. Authors used a scalable approach to on-farm participatory variety evaluation using crowdsourced citizen science, assigning small experimental tasks to many volunteering farmers. They generated a unique dataset from 12,409 trial plots in Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and India, a participatory variety evaluation dataset of large size and scope. This shows the potential of crowdsourced citizen science to generate insights into variety adaptation, recommend adapted varieties, and help smallholder farmers respond to climate change.

Roe Morrow; Growing permaculture (video)

Rosemary Morrow "What is Needed for Permaculture to Grow" 

Roe Morrow talks about her 40 years working in permaculture and considers where we're going next. International Permaculture Conference, London, 2015.

German permaculture as community of practice (journal)

The German Permaculture Community from a Community of Practice Perspective 

Authors use the concept of Communities of Practice to answer important questions concerning community dynamics and learning processes: How are individual perspectives turned into a joint endeavour? How do the community and its respective relation to its members affect the interactions with external actors? Drawing on qualitative data from twelve semi-structured interviews with teachers from Germany’s Permakultur Akademie, our goal was to gain insights into the community’s self-organisation and learning interfaces. Findings suggest that the German permaculture community displays key characteristics of a Community of Practice with developed shared values as well as education and organisational structures, while being embedded in an international community. Internal challenges were the absence of a common strategy that effectively linked individuals to coordinated activities

Characteristics of permaculture farms (#journal)

Permaculture farmers consistently cultivate perennials, crop diversity, landscape heterogeneity and nature conservation

 This study characterized plant communities on ten applied permaculture farms and found that independent adopters consistently implemented predominately perennial species (73% of species richness), polycultures (mean 42 crop species per site), and zone design. These practices resulted in commercial farms characterized by perennialization, crop diversification, landscape heterogeneity and nature conservation. Grassroots adopters were remarkably consistent in their interpretation and application of an unregulated agricultural model suggesting that such movements may exert considerable influence over local agroecological transitions.

100 solutions to global warming (video)

100 solution to reverse global warming

What if we took out more greenhouse gases than we put into the atmosphere? This hypothetical scenario, known as "drawdown," is our only hope of averting climate disaster, says strategist Chad Frischmann. In a forward-thinking talk, he shares solutions to climate change that exist today -- conventional tactics like the use of renewable energy and better land management as well as some lesser-known approaches, like changes to food production, better family planning and the education of girls. Learn more about how we can reverse global warming and create a world where regeneration, not destruction, is the rule.

Plant choice changes soil long-term (journal)

Single introductions of soil biota and plants generate long‐term legacies in soil and plant community assembly

Centuries‐old man‐made legacies in the landscape still strongly influence present‐day nutrient cycling, plant productivity and species composition in natural ecosystems. For instance, long‐term human soil cultivation led to ‘Dark Earths’ around the world, supporting fungal‐dominated soil communities that still affect productivity and plant species composition centuries later. This paper demonstrates experimentally that one‐time additions of soil biota and plant seeds alter soil‐borne nematode and plant community composition in semi‐natural grassland for 20 years. Over time, above ground and below ground community composition became increasingly correlated, suggesting an increasing connectedness of soil biota and plants. Authors conclude that the initial composition of not only plant communities, but also soil communities has a long‐lasting impact on the trajectory of community assembly.

Soil microbe that eats methane (journal)

Widespread soil bacterium that oxidizes atmospheric methane

The global atmospheric level of methane (CH4), the second most important greenhouse gas, is currently increasing by ∼10 million tons per year. Microbial oxidation in unsaturated soils is the only known biological process that removes CH4 from the atmosphere, but so far, bacteria that can grow on atmospheric CH4 have eluded all cultivation efforts. This study isolated a pure culture of a bacterium, strain MG08 that grows on air at atmospheric concentrations of CH4. This organism, named Methylocapsa gorgona, is globally distributed in soils and closely related to uncultured members of the upland soil cluster α. CH4 oxidation experiments and 13C-single cell isotope analyses demonstrated that it oxidizes atmospheric CH4 aerobically and assimilates carbon from both CH4 and CO2.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Borehole garden permaculture (#journal)

Local scale water-food nexus: Use of borehole-garden permaculture to realise the full potential of rural water supplies in Malawi

 Borehole-garden permaculture is advocated as one opportunity that involves the sustainable use of groundwater spilt at hand-pump operated borehole supplies that is otherwise wasted. Our goal has been to develop an, experience-based, framework for delivery of sustainable borehole-garden permaculture and associated benefits. This is based upon data collection and permaculture implementation across the rural Chikwawa District of Malawi during 2009–17. Based on the probable ubiquity of underlying issues, the framework is expected to be generalizable to the wider developing world. However, this particular application of permaculture represents a fraction of its greater potential opportunity for rural communities that should be explored.

Effects of permaculture on 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)

The limitations of conventional agriculture have accelerated the need for a transition to an environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural model. Authors aimed to study the impact of permaculture and biointensive micro-gardening practices on soil physicochemical properties and soil organic matter (SOM). The physicochemical properties of soils in permaculture farming implemented for 7 years were compared with a soil under pasture. The concentrations of total OC and nitrogen (N) in bulk soils were higher under permaculture practices, due to significant inputs of manure and compost, resulting in higher concentrations of the bioavailable nutrients Ca, Mg, K, and P. Permaculture/biointensive micro-gardening practices enhance SOM storage and substantially improve nutrient bioavailability.

Organic grape growers have more water security (#journal)

Turning water into wine: Exploring water security perceptions and adaptation behaviour amongst conventional, organic and biodynamic grape growers

Australian irrigators regularly experience drought. This study explores irrigators’ water security perceptions and their water management adaptation behaviour using in-depth interviews and surveys with 37 conventional, organic and biodynamic grape growers in South Australia. Overall alternative growers perceived higher water security and less water vulnerability due to higher soil water retention. Findings suggest a need for current Murray-Darling Basin water policy to seriously reconsider the approach of primarily investing money in irrigation infrastructure to save water and to focus more on agro-ecological methods.

Shea trees in agro-forestry (#journal)

Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa Gaertn. f.): from local constraints to multi-scale improvement of economic, agronomic and environmental performance in an endemic Sudanian multipurpose agroforestry species

 Shea trees have been for 3000 years probably the most economically and culturally important tree species in Sudanian agroforestry systems. This synthesis paper gathers and updates most of the scattered knowledge on shea trees and parklands: socio-economic potential of shea production, current means of enhancing shea domestication, tree impacts on environmental resources and associated crop production. It concludes with a proposal for a systemic and participative bio-economic modelling approach in order to simulate intensification of shea parklands’ production.

The fight for nature (book)

The Right to Nature: Social Movements, Environmental Justice and Neoliberal Natures, 1st Edition

Since the 2008 financial crash the expansion of neoliberalism has had an enormous impact on nature-society relations around the world. In response, various environmental movements have emerged opposing the neoliberal restructuring of environmental policies using arguments that often bridge traditional divisions between the environmental and labour agendas.
The Right to Nature explores the differing experiences of a number of environmental-social movements and struggles. Chapter 21, 'Humans in the landscape', includes permaculture.


Insects in major decline globally (#journal)

Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers

Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Authors present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. This reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world's insect species over the next few decades. The main drivers in order of importance are: i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation; ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) climate change. A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage is urgently needed. In addition, effective remediation technologies should be applied to clean polluted waters.