Saturday, August 27, 2005

Peak Oil and Permaculture: David Holmgren on Energy Descent | Peak Oil and Permaculture: David Holmgren on Energy Descent | Energy and Peak Oil News:
by Adam Fenderson -- June 2004
Holmgren: One of the biggest limiting resources in agricultural productivity is phosphorous. It's critical to plant nutrition and animal health, and it's in limited supply. All ecosystems work to maximize to hold phosphorous and recycle it. It's one of the non-renewable mineral resources that humans have dug out of the earth at a few key places around the world in the last hundred years with the aid of fossil fuels and have spread over large areas of agricultural land. Interestingly enough, it's one of the few elements that doesn't get leeched away readily. It's been estimated that in some parts of Australia's farmland that's been intensively farmed for potatoes in a cool climate, that there's enough phosphorous tied up in the soil, locked up, for a hundred years of farming�if you could actually make it available.

Now making it available requires the work of a healthy eco-system. Because nature is used to actually breaking apart this locked up phosphorous in the form of aluminium and iron phosphate. So permaculture systems--especially tree systems, as well as forms of organic agriculture that husband the soil micro-organisms can mine back out some of that resource. That's one of the positive stories agriculture hasn't just left a legacy of toxicity and degradation, it's left a legacy of unused abundance. It's been technically difficult to get at, so it's not just like people have pointlessly thrown away fertilizers: it requires more sophisticated soil ecosystems.

Vegetable Farming with Less Energy | Maverick methods work just fine for both produce and the planet | Energy and Peak Oil News:
by Mia Stainsby -- Aug 24, 2005
"Agriculture, he says, uses 80 per cent of the world's freshwater resources with only 20 per cent of it reaching the plants and animals because of inefficient transport and application systems. 'Precise planting depths, timely cultivation, ancient dry-farming techniques, increased crop variety, drip tapes and hoses are ways of using water much more efficiently.'

The same goes for energy, he says. 'If you look at the relation between food and oil, one of the greatest services is to begin to show that food can be produced without intensive input of energy. My goal is to be 80 per cent fossil oil-free in the next couple of years,' he declares. He has solar systems set up to power his farm.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Manure Converted to a Variety of Products

Manure Converted to a Variety of Products: -- July 18, 2001
If you thought cow patties were just something to avoid stepping in, consider this: In the future they could help make plastics, antifreeze, cosmetics, and even deodorants.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Costs Push Oklahoma Farmers Away From Corn

KOTV - The News on 6 - Costs Push Oklahoma Farmers Away From Corn:
AP -- Aug 9, 2005
GUYMON, Okla. (AP) _ Many corn farmers in Oklahoma's Panhandle say the high cost of natural gas is causing them to shy away from growing corn.

They say the high natural gas prices make watering the crop too costly. Texas County farmers use the fuel to power engines that tap the Ogallala Aquifer, which is used to water crops.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Can This Fruit Be Saved?

This fascinating article tells the story of the bannana and how researchers are racing to develop new varieties before disease wipes out cultivated production.
Can This Fruit Be Saved? - Popular Science:
By Dan Koeppel | August 2005
The banana as we know it is on a crash course toward extinction. For scientists, the battle to resuscitate the world's favorite fruit has begun -- a race against time that just may be too late to win.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Economists Study Implications Of High Diesel Prices on Farming

Economists Study Implications Of High Diesel Prices on Farming 5/23/05:
Kansas State University -- May 23, 2005
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Historically high diesel prices have producers thinking no-till farming looks better every day, but two Kansas State University agricultural economists studied the diesel price outlook and possible long-term impact on machinery and whole-farm costs.
Based on data supplied by Kansas Farm Management Association members, those members can expect their total fuel costs, excluding irrigation, in 2005 to increase by more than $3,000 compared to what they paid in 2004, said K-State Research and Extension farm management specialist Kevin Dhuyvetter.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Essential Steps to a Sustainable Agriculture

This article includes eight solid principles farmers can use to increase long term productivity. They are the guiding principles of the Kerr Center in Oklahoma.
Kerr Center: Essential Steps to a Sustainable Agriculture:
What is a sustainable agriculture? And once you know what it is, how do you practice it?
These are the questions my staff and I first addressed in the mid-80s. There are dozens of definitions of a sustainable agriculture. But I'll go with a simple one: A sustainable agriculture is a system of agriculture that will last. It is an agriculture that maintains its productivity over the long run...

Reducing Fossil Fuel use through Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture practices can help make agriculture a major net contributor to the energy equation. This article gives some sensible steps toward this goal.
The Health of Our Air: Toward sustainable agriculture in Canada | Reducing fossil fuel use:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada -- Aug 27, 2003
Farms rely on energy from fossil fuels to power machinery, heat buildings, dry harvested crops, and transport goods. Energy is also used to supply materials employed on the farm, such as fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, and buildings. Most of these emissions are not attributed to agriculture in the national inventory of greenhouse gases. Even so, using less fuel on farms would reduce Canada's total CO2 emissions.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Herbicide Resistant Pigweed Found in Georgia

NCGA - News of the Day:
August, 2005
...Dr. Stanley Culpepper of the University of Georgia, who is investigating the pigweed case with Monsanto, collected seed from a field in 2004 and tested the seed in three greenhouse studies this spring. The results revealed poor performance of Roundup herbicide applied at normal label rates. Monsanto and Culpepper are now conducting heritability studies to confirm resistance...