New map IDs pesticide pollution hot spots

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Pesticide pollution hotspots are identified in a new map.

Global warming could exacerbate pesticide woes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world has a long way to go to come to grips with pesticide pollution say scientists who recently created a global map showing which areas are most susceptible.

Their modeling suggests that streams across about 40 percent of the planet’s surface are at risk from the application of insecticides, with the Mediterranean region, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia among the hotspots.

On average, farmers apply about 4 million tons of agricultural pesticides  annually, equating to an average of 0.27 kilograms per hectare of the global land surface. Continue reading

Wheat experts warn on global warming impacts

Wheat field in Upper Austria

A wheat field ripens under a summer sun. bberwyn photo

Extreme weather could cut global yields by 25 percent

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists in the biggest wheat-producing state in the U.S. issued a stark climate change warning last week, saying that 25 percent of the world’s wheat production will be lost to extreme weather if no adaptive measures are taken.

The research by scientists at Kansas State University concluded that global wheat yields are likely to decrease by 6 percent for each 1 degree Celsius of temperature rise. In the next few decades, that could add up to a 25 percent loss in global wheat yields. Continue reading

Environment: Lawsuit highlights herbicide ‘death spiral’

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic Austrian corn field.

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic corn field.

Court challenge aimed at protecting whooping cranes, endangered bats

Staff Report

FRISCO — Hoping to forestall a DDT-type disaster, environmental groups and farmers last week moved to block the EPA’s approval of a new herbicide that could threaten endangered species.

In a federal court, the groups said the approval violates the Endangered Species Act because the EPA failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the impact of Enlist Duo on two endangered species in those states, the whooping crane and the Indiana bat.  Continue reading

Is the fight over organic foods an ideological battle?

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European farmers have been much quicker to embrace organic standards, resulting in a positive response from consumers.

New study looks closely at ingrained belief systems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some farmers may be resisting the trend toward organic agriculture simply because of a deeply held set of beliefs that aren’t necessarily based in fact. Making the switch to organic farming may make some farmers feel like they’re switching belief systems, which isn’t easy for anyone.

“The ideological map of American agriculture reveals an unfolding drama between chemical and organic farming,”an international group of researchers wrote in a new article in the  Journal of Marketing. “Chemical farmers argue that to make money, one must follow chemical traditions; when organic farmers make more money, it seems “wrong.” Continue reading

Colorado farming, ranching water ‘in the crosshairs’ as big reservoirs dwindle

Water experts to discuss role of agriculture in Colorado River puzzle

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Can ag water save the Colorado River?

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new $11 million effort to keep water flowing in the Colorado River to Lake Powell could up the pressure on Colorado farmers and ranchers to sell or lease their water.

In fact, agriculture is in the crosshairs in Colorado, according to the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which represents western Colorado water interests. Low water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead — the key storage buckets on the Colorado — have prompted measures to put more water in the river.

The CRWCD’s annual water seminar (Sept. 19, Grand Junction) will focus on what that means for western Colorado, with panel discussions and presentations on ag efficiency, the worth of ag efficiency and how ag efficiency works with the chief goal of sustaining ag as a viable industry. Continue reading

Study: There’s huge potential for increased food production on existing land

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

Tweaking farm practices could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture

FRISCO — A systematic University of Minnesota study of global agricultural resources suggest that improving food systems in a few specific regions could make it possible to both meet the basic needs of 3 billion more people and decrease agriculture’s environmental footprint.

The report, published in Science, focuses on 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world’s crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption on a global scale. It proposes a set of key actions in three broad areas that that have the greatest potential for reducing the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture and boosting our ability meet global food needs. Continue reading

Global warming threatens Central Valley’s fruit and nut crops

Winter tule fogs in decline; no rest for the orchards

A peach orchard in Palisade, Colorado in full bloom.

A peach orchard in Palisade, Colorado in full bloom.

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — The winter tule fog in California’s Central Valley may be fading with climate change, threatening part of the region’s multibillion dollar agricultural industy, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley researchers,

High-value crops like almonds, pistachios, cherries, apricots and peaches all need a winter dormant period that is triggered and maintained by cold temperatures, but those are becoming less reliable as the global climate warms. The new study, published May 15 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found a 46 percent drop in the number of fog days between the first of November and the end of February during the 32-year study period. Continue reading

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