When the worst of Irma’s fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida’s extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country’s biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.
It took a direct hit from the storm. “The eyewall came right over our main production area,” McAvoy says.
The groves of orange and grapefruit were approaching harvest. But after Irma blew through, it left “50 or 60 percent of the fruit lying in water [or]on the ground,” says McAvoy. Many trees were standing in water, a mortal danger if their roots stay submerged for longer than three or four days.
Our global dependency on a few crops could be problematic…
Governments may be seriously underestimating the risks of crop disasters occurring in major farming regions around the world, a study by British researchers has found.
The newly published research, by Met Office scientists, used advanced climate modelling to show that extreme weather events could devastate food production if they occurred in several key areas at the same time. Such an outcome could trigger widespread famine.
When President Trump announced this week that he was taking the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, there were swift and vocal reactions from many industries —- but most of the organizations that represent American agriculture were silent.
Chris Clayton, though, a veteran reporter at one of the leading farm publications in the country, took to Twitter:
“Since today seems all about doing something that goes against the facts and the world, I’m just saying, Cavs in seven. #NBAFinals”
Further impacts of climate change and industrialized agriculture…
Wild Chinook salmon, probably the most prized seafood item on the West Coast, could all but vanish from California within a hundred years, according to a report released Tuesday.
The authors, with the University of California, Davis, and the conservation group California Trout, name climate change, dams and agriculture as the major threats to the prized and iconic fish, which is still the core of the state’s robust fishing industry.
Chinook salmon are just one species at risk of disappearing. All told, California is home to 31 genetically distinct kinds of salmon and trout — 23 of which are at risk of going extinct sometime in the next century, according to the report.
President Trump, congressional Republicans, and most American farmers share common positions on climate change: They question the science showing human activity is altering the global climate and are skeptical of using public policy to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
But farmers are in a unique position to tackle climate change. We have the political power, economic incentive, and policy tools to do so. What we don’t yet have is the political will.
After California’s wetter-than-normal winter—and the official end to its drought—you’re probably not thinking much about water scarcity and the food supply. But our food-and-water woes go well beyond the Sunshine State’s latest precipitation patterns, as this new Nature study from a global team of researchers—including two from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies—shows.
The paper notes that the globe’s stores of underground water, known as groundwater—the stuff that accumulates over millennia in aquifers—is vanishing at an “alarming” rate, driven mainly by demand for irrigation to grow crops. You can think of such reserves as “fossil” water, since it takes thousands of years to replenish once it’s pumped out. Once it’s gone, some of the globe’s key growing regions—the breadbaskets for much of Asia and the Middle East—will no longer be viable. Here in the United States, we rely heavily on California’s Central Valley for fruit, vegetables, and nuts—which in turn relies on some of the globe’s most stressed aquifers for irrigation. Tapped-out aquifers point to a future marked by high food prices and geopolitical strife.
The British primatologist, renowned for her work with chimpanzees, expressed dismay that Trump and others in his administration have questioned the scientific basis of climate change. “Because I’m traveling all over the world 300 days a year, I have seen the result of climate change and we know, science has shown, that global temperatures are warming and these so-called greenhouse gases are blanketing the globe,” she said, noting that ice is melting, sea levels rising and oceans losing their ability to absorb carbon dioxide.
The issues behind the expected salad greens shortage…
The system that delivers fresh salad greens like clockwork to the nation’s grocery stores is breaking down slightly. In about three weeks, consumers may get a reminder of two things. First, vegetables really are fragile living things, and most of them have to survive outdoors. Second, we depend to a remarkable degree on just a few places to grow them…
During winter, those bags of baby spinach and “spring mix” typically come from Yuma County, Ariz. But “we’ve had a little bit of a rough season down there,” says Samantha Cabaluna, a vice president for marketing and communications at Tanimura & Antle, a vegetable grower.
It’s been unusually damp in southern Arizona, and as a result, greens in the field have been afflicted with mildew. Growers have been forced to pull vegetables from fields and end the harvest earlier than usual.
When it comes to climate change, we often think of the cars we drive and the energy we use in our homes and offices. They are, after all, some of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But what about the toast you ate for breakfast this morning?
A new study published Monday in Nature Plants breaks down the environmental cost of producing a loaf of bread, from wheat field to bakery. It finds that the bulk of the associated greenhouse gas emissions come from just one of the many steps that go into making that loaf: farming.
A grain company working to reduce the impacts of agriculture on the planet…
Shepherd’s Grain sells not only high-quality flour made from wheat grown with no-till practices, it also sells the story of no-till, a farming method that eliminates the significant climate-warming carbon releases caused by plowing…
No-till farming represents a quiet agricultural revolution. Instead of using the long-established method of tilling the ground, farmers use drills that directly plant seed and fertilizer in the soil, resulting in minimal disturbance. This preserves soil carbon, which would oxidize if exposed to the air. The practice also adds to soil carbon by leaving residue on the ground, which is worked into the soil by earthworms and microorganisms that would be wiped out by tillage and the field burning that often accompanies it.