Posted on August 31, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Latest water skirmish ends with win for fish
Spawning salmon. Photo courtesy NOAA.
FRISCO — Life has been tough for California’s freshwater fish during the state’s extended drought. But some salmon in the northern part of the state will have a fighting chance after a federal judge last week decided to maintain a key flow program aimed at boosting flows in the Trinity River.
The Trinity is a tributary of the Klamath River, where major salmon runs are currently facing the threat of a major fish kill due to the drought. U.S. Judge Lawrence O’Neill, based on Fresno, California, ruled that the risks from shutting down a federal program to release additional reservoir water to protect the salmon were too great, and the potential benefit to irrigators too uncertain. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, global warming | Tagged: agriculture, California drought, climate change, drought, salmon runs, Trinity River | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 17, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Wild bees need love, too. @bberwyn photo.
‘protecting a wide variety of our wild bees is crucial …’
FRISCO — A new bee tracking study shows that protecting wild bees may be just as important as tackling the decline of domesticated honeybee colonies.
After tracking bees around the world, researchers concluded that only two percent of wild bee species pollinate 80 percent of bee-pollinated crops worldwide.
That means there’s a powerful economic rationale for conserving wild bees. It calculates the value of wild bee pollination to the global food system at $3,000 per hectare of insect-pollinated agricultural land, amounting to billions of dollars globally. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment, pollinators, wild bees | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 14, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off. @bberwyn photo.
Annual survey shows disturbing rise in summer bee colony losses
FRISCO — Commercial beekeepers took another big hit last summer, reporting that they lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the past year. Summer losses were higher than winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies, according to University of Maryland scientists. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, Environment, food, honey bee colony collapse, honey bee decline, neonicotinoids, pesticides | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Feed the world, and cut greenhouse gases? It can be done, scientists say. Photo courtesy USDA.
China study shows benefits of switching to sustainable, organic agriculture
FRISCO — A large-scale shift to sustainable organic farming could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions — and improve soil quality and crop resistance to pests at the same time, according to a new study from China.
Since about a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agriculture, scientists have been taking a close look at how to manage the production of food in a way that reduces the global warming footprint. With best practices in place, agriculture could become a net carbon sink instead of a source of heat-trapping pollution, some scientists assert. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, climate change, Environment, global warming | Tagged: agriculture, climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases, Organic farming | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Treatment of corn and soybean seeds driving the increase
FRISCO — Penn State researchers say the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides spiked in the mid-2000s, not in response to a documented crop threat, but as a prophylactic treatment against uncertain insect attacks.
The growth is primarily due to the use of neonicotinoids in the treatment of corn and soybean seeds. In 2000, less than 5 percent of soybean acres and less than 30 percent of corn acres were treated with an insecticide, but by 2011, at least a third of all soybean acres and at least 79 percent of all corn acres were planted with neonicotinoid-coated seed. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, Environment, neonicotinoids, pesticides, systemic pesticides | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Pesticide-free sunflowers thrive on this organic farm in Austria. @bberwyn photo.
Agency says it won’t permit any new uses until pollinator safety studies are done
By Bob Berwyn
*More Summit Voice stories on pesticides and honey bees here
FRISCO — Under persistent pressure from the public and environmental activists, the EPA today started dialing back the use of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides that have been implicated in the decline and collapse of honeybee colonies around the world.
In a notice to entities using those pesticides, the EPA said it would not be accepting any new applications: “EPA believes that until the data on pollinator health have been received and appropriate risk assessments completed, it is unlikely to be in a position to determine that such uses would avoid “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” as required by federal environmental regulations, the agency wrote in its April 2 letter to registered users. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, EPA, honeybees environment, neonicotinoids, pesticides | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 1, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Pesticide pollution hotspots are identified in a new map.
Global warming could exacerbate pesticide woes
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
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: agriculture, Environment, pesticides, pollution | 1 Comment »