Showing results for: Primary production: Agriculture
Agricultural production sits at the heart of major societal concerns, spanning food security, nutrition and health; livelihoods and development; the environment;and animal ethics. In early history, the farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that allowed for the development of sedentary civilisation. Later, the Green Revolution of the twentieth century allowed for large groups of people, especially in developed countries, to “move off the land” and improved food supplies across much of the world. Yet while innovations in modern agronomy, plant and animal breeding, pesticides and fertilizer use have greatly increased food output, much environmental harm arising from these practices has occurred while concerns are also growing around excess calories and poor nutrition, leading to obesity and associated non communicable diseases as well as micronutrient deficiencies. Many of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for their living face problems arising from imbalanced power structures, including poor working conditions, uncertain land use and tenure, and lack of access to inputs, infrastructure, capital and knowledge; these imbalances play out along the whole of the food value chain, between the genders, within country populations and across countries and regions. As to the environment, agriculture is responsible for some 20% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions of which about half arise directly from crop and livestock production and the other half from agriculturally induced land use change. It is also the main cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss, a major user and polluter of scarce water resources and responsible for the disruption of global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.
A new online course developed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network deals with environmental and climate-related challenges in the Mediterranean and shows how sustainable food systems are being used. The course is aimed at students, current and future practitioners in the agricultural, food and beverage sectors, and policymakers and regional stakeholders.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have sequenced the genomes of 913 types of microbes found inside cows’ digestive systems, hoping to discover more about the types of enzymes that the microbes use to break down the food.
This book, edited by Christophe-Toussaint Soulard, Coline Perrin and Elodie Valette, examines the interactions between agriculture and cities, using case studies around the Mediterranean.
This article explains the technological changes behind the three-fold increase in global crop production between 1961 and 2014, i.e. since the Green Revolution. It examines the 58 countries that are responsible for 95% of food production and assesses the impacts of changes in land use, inputs and efficiency.
In this blog post for the Food Ethics Council, ffinlo Costain describes different ways of measuring farm animal welfare.
This study, undertaken by researchers at Michigan State University and the Union of Concerned Scientists, compares the net greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of two different beef finishing systems in the Upper Midwest, of the United States: a feedlot system; and a grazing system based on adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing principles.
Using volcanic rock dust as a fertiliser on farms could offset around one tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to preliminary estimates.
A report from food waste charity Feedback investigates what role supermarkets play in the production of food waste on UK farms.
This report, edited by the World Bank, reviews the literature to explore the sources and impacts of agricultural pollution in East Asia and propose solutions.
This report from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) considers the relationships between land use, land degradation and sustainable development goals.
Indoor and vertical farming might not replace traditional farms, but they bring their own unique benefits.
The China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) has released an information sheet on the state of China’s agricultural sector in 2017.
This study by researchers in the US used a theoretical approach to work out how much beef could be produced in the US if the cows were raised solely on pasturelands and by-products, and what the environmental and nutritional ramifications of repurposing the freed up cropland would be.
This feature in the newly launched journal Nature Sustainability focuses on the growth of urban agriculture in the US due to increased availability of unused land and innovative development of urban farms and community gardens.
This book by Helmut Traitler, Michel Dubois, Keith Heikes, Vincent Petiard, David Zilberman provides an overview of current food systems and potential future directions for agriculture and food.
This article presents the results from a new global soil erosion model, based on a combination of remote sensing, GIS modelling and census data. It finds that accelerated soil erosion due to land use change between 2001 and 2012 is a major threat to soil and future agriculture but that previous commonly used estimates of annual global soil erosion were twice too high. In comparison with previous studies which had a mapping resolution of around 10–60 km cell size, this model with its high-resolution 250m cell size has far greater predictive power than any previous model.