Browsing Tag

Agriculture

Environment

Buying a CSA vs. Organic Food: Which One Is Better?

March 20, 2020
csa vs organic food

You don’t have a lot of information about most of the food you buy at the grocery store — how the farmers grew it, what sorts of pesticides and herbicides they used and so on. As a result, many are turning to organic foods and farmers’ markets to have a better idea of what they’re eating, and to avoid chemicals and environmentally unfriendly farming practices. 

However, you have more options than just organic food. You may have heard of community-supported agriculture (or CSA) programs, which can provide you with weekly deliveries of fresh produce from local farmers.

Below, we’ll break down which choice is better — buying from a CSA vs. organic food.

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Environment

What Is Agricultural Runoff, and How Is It Harming Our Waters?

March 18, 2020
what is agricultural runoff

Water is a resource that gets a lot of coverage, probably because living things need it to survive. You may not think much about your water sources, especially if getting hydrated is as easy as turning on the tap and filling up a cup. But clean, easily accessible water is by no means available to everyone, and a problem called agricultural runoff exacerbates matters.

What Is Agricultural Runoff?

Runoff happens when the water from rain, melted snow or irrigation doesn’t sink into the soil for proper absorption. Instead, it moves over the ground, picking up natural and artificial pollutants along the way. Eventually, those contaminants get deposited into coastal waterways, lakes, rivers and even underground sources of drinking water.

What is agricultural runoff, then? It’s the kind of water pollution described above, but it’s originated on farms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says this runoff is the leading source of impairments to surveyed rivers and lakes. Complicating matters is the fact that there’s no single source of this kind of runoff — farmers can’t just make one change to solve the problem.

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Environment

Farm Bankruptcies on the Rise: What Can We Do About It?

March 16, 2020
farm bankruptcies

As extreme weather disrupts planting and trade wars shrink the market available to farmers, American agriculture is starting to struggle. One recent report from the American Farm Bureau Federation found that farm bankruptcies were up 24% from last year — one of the steepest rises in modern history. At the same time, farm debt is reaching levels close to those seen during the 1980s farming crisis.

All of this change means one thing — American farms are facing pressure that makes them more likely to declare bankruptcy than ever before. Here’s what’s driving the trend, how it’s affecting farmers and what we can do to turn the rise of farm bankruptcy around.

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Green Technology

How Crop Genetics Will Shape the Future of Agriculture

March 13, 2020
crop genetics

People who study human genetics can explain why some pregnancies result in triplets or what determines someone’s hair color. Crop genetics deals with similar queries, except that field of study is specifically for plants. Experts in crop genetics study how to increase yields, make crops more resilient to adverse weather and more. Here’s a look at why crop genetics seems poised to impact agriculture significantly. 

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Environment

How to Develop Climate-Smart Agriculture

February 26, 2020
climate smart agriculture

Climate change has become a worldwide topic of discussion lately, and for good reason. Scientists warn that we need to act fast and collaborate to mitigate the effects of climate change and start doing things differently to halt the speed of global warming. One of the broad ways to do that is called climate-smart agriculture (CSA).

What Is Climate-Smart Agriculture? 

Climate-smart agriculture uses a variety of techniques to increase the productivity levels of farmland while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and facilitating other positive changes to help the planet. For example, some ongoing projects falling under this umbrella focus on conserving water, reducing pesticides and promoting soil health and practicing agroforestry. 

 

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Environment

What Are the Objectives of Agricultural Policy and Why Do They Matter?

February 24, 2020
objectives of agricultural policy

Each year sees a new round of farm-based policies. Some laws are more effective than others, and not all meet expectations — however, the core objectives of agricultural policy matter. People are ultimately seeking better ways to run their farms and do business, and creating new rules can help.

Policies exist for everything from water management to native seed harvesting. Regulation is necessary for ensuring worker and animal wellness, proper cropping methods and much more. In an ideal world, a practical set of agricultural guidelines would keep operations running smoothly while putting all living beings as the top priorities. Until we reach that point, people will continue voicing their opinions about much-needed changes.

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Wildlife

The Importance of Animal Nutrition on the Farm

February 19, 2020
importance of animal nutrition

Running a farm is no easy feat. You might feel like your to-do list gets longer every day, but you’d never give up the joy you get from working your land and raising animals. It comes with a sense of pride that has fueled generations of families, cultivating small farms around the world.

Every farm has a slightly different purpose. You could grow a single crop and keep animals around for private use, like eggs and milk for your family. Animals could also be the sole purpose of your farm since they can make a significant profit if you raise them correctly.

If you have animals on your farm, don’t stop learning what you can do to help them. With the proper approach, you can feed your animals the food they need while maintaining or improving the sustainability of your farm. Here are five reasons why animal nutrition matters. 

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Environment

10 Benefits of Hydroponics vs. Traditional Farming

February 10, 2020
hydroponics vs. traditional farming

When was the last time you heard the phrase “hydroponics?” Maybe it was in the third season of the science fiction show “The Expanse,” which introduced a space botanist tasked with taking care of the hydroponic gardens Ganymede in orbit around Jupiter. While hydroponics might be integral to space travel, it’s quickly becoming important in modern agriculture as well. Here are 10 benefits of hydroponics over traditional farming. 

1. Water Use Is More Efficient

With hydroponics, you’re growing your plants in a water-based nutrient solution, but these systems use water more efficiently than any type of traditional farming and irrigation. They use up to 10 times less water than traditional agriculture because the majority of the water is captured and recycled, rather than being allowed to drain into the soil like you would with a regular farm plot or garden. 

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Wildlife

Should We Move Toward Biological Pest Control Methods?

February 7, 2020
biological pest control

If humans lacked effective ways to keep pests at bay, gardens and lawns would be overrun with unwanted visitors that could eat plants and trigger other undesirable effects. One method of interest is biological pest control. It centers on introducing living organisms that display predatory behaviors toward the pests rather than relying on chemicals to do the job.

Research shows there are many downsides to using non-biological pest control measures. For example, the chemicals pose dangers to kids and pets, and there are issues with the chemicals not reaching their intended targets. Additionally, ongoing use can cause resistance, requiring people to use more of a product to get the same results once achievable with a smaller amount. 

When methods of getting rid of nature’s nuisances prove ineffective, agricultural professionals often waste money when, perhaps, they should have investigated different options sooner. A study from the Zoological Society of London recently found that the overuse of an herbicide to control a weed that harms winter-wheat fields takes a £400 million bite out of the United Kingdom’s economy every year. 

Since the conventional ways of pest management have these negatives and others, more people wonder if now is the time to embrace biological pest controls. 

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Green Technology

How Agricultural Transportation Can Be More Sustainable

January 29, 2020
agricultural transportation

Vehicles are convenient and often irreplaceable in agricultural operations. But they’re also energy-intensive and pollution-heavy despite all the good they do in streamlining processes. Many companies target food production when greening their supply chain, but not all of them focus on transportation with equal weight. 

Agricultural transportation doesn’t have to remain as unsustainable as it currently is, however. Cleaner options exist for shipping goods without harming our atmosphere or water sources. The incentives for widespread adaptation are plenty — companies could have better products, healthier cattle and trustworthy reputations. Eco-friendly shipping affects every part of the supply chain.

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